Microsoft today held its “new era of hybrid work” digital event and announced a bunch of features for Teams, Outlook, and Viva that are aimed at making hybrid work easier. The company has also announced some new Teams Rooms innovations to make the meeting experience more engaging. At the event, the company also announced that its US offices won't be opening until further notice, cancelling the planned October 4th re-openings.
“Our new data shows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work, as employee expectations continue to change. The only way for organizations to solve for this complexity is to embrace flexibility across their entire operating model, including the ways people work, the places they inhabit and how they approach business process,” Microsoft CEO Sateya Nadella said today.
As Microsoft announced new AI-powered capabilities coming to Teams Rooms devices back in June, the company has followed up with new intelligent cameras for hybrid meetings. These third-party cameras come with a bunch of unique features such as people recognition, active speaker tracking, and active speaker tracking. Interestingly, the in-room camera will leverage the active speaker tracking feature to use gestures, facial movements, and audio to figure out presenters in the meetings room.
The Companion Mode in the Microsoft Teams mobile is also being improved, with the app now offering quick access to Microsoft Whiteboard, chat and live reactions. The improved Companion Mode will begin rolling out "in the next few months," and it should also make it easier to access meeting and device controls.
That is not all though. Microsoft Teams is adding support for Apple CarPlay, allowing users to join Teams meetings and make calls while driving. In addition, automatic lighting corrections capabilities will arrive in Teams meetings in the coming months. Microsoft also announced a couple of apps to support the new shared stage experience that was originally announced at Build 2021. The list includes Freehand, Lucidspark, MURAL, Miro, and more.
In early 2022, Microsoft PowerPoint is also gaining a few new capabilities to make hybrid presentations even better. First of all, there is a new feature called Cameo that lets users integrate their Teams camera feed directly into presentations. Speaker Coach is another AI-powered feature that is coming to PowerPoint presentations that monitors speaker’s pace during meetings and reminds them to interact with their audience.
In addition to these PowerPoint features, Outlook is introducing new RSVP experiences that will enable users to specify if they will attend a meeting in person or remotely. The company is improving the working hours feature in Outlook to include work schedule details in the calendars.
Last but not least, Microsoft plans to launch the Viva Connections mobile app in public preview later this month. The Redmond giant has also announced a couple of initiatives to help LinkedIn users improve their skills. The popular social network will offer 36 LinkedIn Learning courses free until November 9, 2021.