Microsoft today streamlined the Teams calling experience to bring all related elements (dial pad, call history, voicemail, contacts, and settings) into a single location. The company also added features like Apple CarPlay support, saving call recordings to OneDrive and SharePoint, spam call identification, and call merging. Microsoft further outlined new advanced business calling capabilities and a slew of calling features coming in early 2021.
Microsoft Teams is the company’s Office 365 chat-based collaboration tool that competes with Slack, Facebook’s Workplace, Google Meet, and even Zoom. Indeed, Microsoft is in a virtual meeting war with Google and Zoom. Teams has seen 200 million meeting participants in a single day, Google Meet has seen more than 235 million meeting participants, and Zoom has seen 300 million meeting participants. (Unlike DAUs, “meeting participants” can count the same user more than once.)
Since 2018, Teams has been the company’s fastest-growing business app ever, long before lockdowns started juicing up remote work and learning numbers. In May, Microsoft’s Jeff Teper told VentureBeat Teams “will be even bigger than Windows.” That will be tough to achieve without expanding calling features to compete with Google and Zoom.
New call features available now
With Apple CarPlay support, you can now place and receive Teams calls using your vehicle’s built-in controls. You can also use Siri — if it decides to cooperate — to place and answer calls. (Microsoft declined to comment on possible Android Auto support.)
Next, Teams admins can now make OneDrive or SharePoint the default recording storage location for calls (instead of Stream). Microsoft says saving Teams calls in OneDrive or SharePoint makes it easier to share the recordings with external guests and access transcripts.
As for spam identification, Teams can now identify potential spam calls so you’ll be more willing to answer incoming calls from unknown numbers. Additionally, Teams will digitally attest outgoing calls to keep them from being rejected by external recipients.
Teams also now supports call merge for both PSTN calls and VoIP calls. Finally, the automatic reverse number look-up has been improved so you can see the name of the caller at the time they’re calling and in your activity feed and voicemail.
There are also two new advanced business calling features. The new Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA) allows users to place and receive PSTN calls even in the event of a network outage. Furthermore, when you transfer a call, it will not disconnect just because someone on the other end is unavailable — the call will ring back to the person making the transfer.
Call features coming in early 2021
On top of all of the above, Microsoft is promising to add the following Teams call features in early 2021.
- Transfer calls: Teams will be able to transfer calls between mobile and desktop. This will be useful if you need to change locations or devices to finish your call.
- Low-data mode: Adjust settings in Teams to cap the amount of data that will be used during video calls based on network availability (Cellular, Wi-Fi, or Always).
- Voice-enabled channels: Integrate call queues into a specific channel for collaboration and information sharing before, during, and after the call. Microsoft hopes this may be useful for IT or HR help desks.
- Certified Contact Center solutions: Use presence and user APIs to integrate with Teams, allowing agents to find the right colleagues to assist. Contact center providers can apply for Microsoft certification of their solutions.
Microsoft today also shared that Teams users made over 650 million calls in October, up elevenfold over March. Clearly, the company is pulling out the stops to make sure that number keeps growing through next year.