Microsoft Teams adds new features to try getting your friends and family to ditch Zoom
Well over a year ago, right when the COVID-19 pandemic was starting, Microsoft announced that it was rebranding Office 365 to Microsoft 365. That also came with new features, such as a new Microsoft Family Safety app and consumer features for Microsoft Teams.
Now, those consumer features in Teams are finally here, the Redmond firm announced today, although they’re actually free for everyone. Obviously, Microsoft Teams is a business-focused product, so consumers that want to set up their own meetings have been left using competitors like Zoom throughout the pandemic.
One of the big new features that you’ll be able to use in Teams is Together mode. As you can see from the image above, it places you into a virtual environment. It’s meant to make you feel like you’re all chatting in a coffee shop, or for some reason, at the bottom of the ocean, based on one of the slides in that GIF.
There are also live emoji reactions and GIFs. Note that in order to join the call, you don’t actually have to be a Teams user. Anyone can join using a native app or the browser.
Microsoft made it a point to say that chats in Teams don’t end after the call is over. This is a differentiator between it and Zoom. There’s a key difference between the two platforms. Zoom is a virtual meeting platform. Teams is a full collaboration platform, combining the efforts of Slack and Zoom into one giant product.
Along with the calls features are new chat features. Just like you can add a non-user to a call, you can add them to a group chat by using their phone number. They’ll just see it as an SMS message. Once you start a group chat, you can have a shared to-do list, although it’s not quite clear how the non-Teams user can access it.
You can do things like convert messages into tasks, and you can set up polls for when the group has to decide something. The example is deciding where to eat for dinner.
There’s also a dashboard view, which is just what it sounds like. You get a Chat tab and a Dashboard tab. You can find all of your links, lists, files, and more in that Dashboard tab, so you don’t have to scroll through a whole chat thread to find them.
The new personal features in Teams are available today, and they’re free for everyone.