Microsoft Teams gets Live Share experiences and much more at Build
At this year’s Build developer event, Microsoft has unveiled a range of new capabilities for Teams, promising to take online collaboration even further. This includes a new Live Share feature that Teams apps can leverage to enhance productivity during a Teams meeting.
Live Share – a name Microsoft also uses for its real-time collaboration feature in Visual Studio – allows apps to create interactive experiences in Teams meetings. When an app uses Live Share to take the meeting stage, participants can edit, create, or watch content at the same time, making it easier to work together on a plan or document. For example, you might be able to work on a 3D model using the Hexagon app, which is one of the early partners trying to implement this capability, along with Frame.io, Accenture, and MakeCode. Developers can now start using preview extensions for the Teams Client SDK to start developing apps with these capabilities. Teams Live Share experiences are all backed by the Fluid Framework and Azure Fluid Relay, so the experience is synced to everyone in real-time.
And on that note, Microsoft is also announcing the general availability of the Fluid Framework and Azure Fluid Relay, providing both the APIs needed to enable Live Share experiences and the cloud service to support them. Microsoft says Azure Fluid Relay and the client-side SDK will be ready for production scenarios this summer.
While not exclusive to Teams, Microsoft is also making it possible to create Loop components by updating existing Adaptive Cards. Adaptive Cards are ways to show information in an easy-to-understand format that can be viewed on multiple platforms, and Loop components are editable pieces of information that stay updated across all the surfaces where they’re displayed. By updating an Adaptive Card, developers can create an editable and shareable Loop component that can be edited across Outlook emails, Teams chats, and other Microsoft 365 apps. That makes it easy to not only visualize important information but also take action on it to reduce response times. This capability will enter private preview for developers next month.
Developers looking to bring Teams experiences to custom apps can also leverage the new Microsoft Graph APIs (coming later this summer). including the ability to enable chats with people outside of the user’s tenant, seeing which messages are read and unread, and subscribing to user chats. And, if you’re using Microsoft Power Apps to build custom apps with little to no code, the company is introducing Collaboration Controls, which let you integrate Teams meetings, Tasks by Panner, meetings, files, and more directly into an app.
For developers looking to monetize their Teams apps, Microsoft is also making it possible to create in-app purchase experiences starting today. This way, developers can create a “freemium” experience, where customers can install an app for free, but unlock extra capabilities through an in-app purchase, rather than potentially having to list two separate app listings for the free and paid version. It will also soon (a preview is coming this summer) be possible to offload the management of purchased app licenses to Microsoft, so developers don’t have to create that experience themselves within the app. Microsoft is also improving app management and discoverability on the Teams Store, including making it easier to add apps on mobile devices.
There are a few other things Microsoft announced for Teams at Build, including a new App Compliance Automation Tool to make it easier for developers to create apps that comply with industry standards. The SharePoint Framework can also be now used to create parts for Teams apps, and Microsoft is introducing Approvals APIs so developers can enable approvals within their apps in Teams. There’s also an Azure Communication Services sample app builder, so developers can create custom apps for customers to make calls, which employees can take within Teams.
Finally, Microsoft announced a few new Teams apps are on the way from major partners, including Mural, Figma, Observable, and more. These will be coming soon, though a date wasn’t given.