Now boasting an incredible 145 million daily active users, Microsoft Teams is keen to hold onto its position as one of the leading tools for UCaaS and collaboration. Month after month, the Teams crew roll out a selection of new features, updates, and capabilities to explore.
In April 2021, Microsoft announced a new selection of changes, including the arrival of an official Microsoft Teams Instagram account.
Here are some of the most important Teams updates you should be aware of.
Microsoft Teams Meetings and Webinars
The Microsoft Teams group announced new features for Meetings and Webinars this month, including the arrival of breakout room retention and the option to reassign participants. This allows organisers to move participants into different rooms, even when rooms are open.
Invite-only meeting options will automatically remove people not invited by the organiser and place them in the lobby, improving the security of modern meetings. Additionally, Polls in Teams Meetings now have advanced options, and intelligent suggestions. You can use suggestions to prepare better poll questions and analyse responses quickly too.
Other new features include:
- New meeting creation and expiration policies: Teams meetings and join links will be disabled for users who have had scheduling permissions revoked.
- Improvements to audio permissions: Meeting organizers can now manage attendee order permissions, like un-muting someone without them having to request to speak.
- External presenter support: In Live Events for Teams, users can now allow anonymous users without a Microsoft Service or Azure Active Directory account to join as a presenter.
- Producer control: Teams Live Events will also allow users to manage live events as a producer in a separate window on Teams.
- Custom iOS backgrounds: Custom backgrounds are now available for Teams Meetings on Apple devices. You can choose a pre-set background or pull one from your phone.
- Teams casting from the Teams app: iOS and Android Teams app users will be able to cast wirelessly to connect to Teams Rooms and start displaying content.
Microsoft Teams Collaboration and Chat
Microsoft announced the arrival of a new product feedback tool within Microsoft Teams, which automatically reviews any feedback submitted, and provides help documentation related to the topic. Once enabled by an administrator, you can also share your email address when submitting feedback, so Microsoft can follow up.
Other updates to chat and collaboration features include:
- Native Windows 10 notifications: You can choose Windows native notifications with things like respect for focus assist mode in Teams. This can help to reduce distracting notifications.
- Visual updates: The Teams mobile app now has an updated visual look with new icons, headers, and stylings, as well as a dark theme option.
- Chats in mobile apps: If you have the Teams mobile app, you can pin chats and filter through your chat list when you need to find conversations.
- Emoji GIFs and library: The Teams mobile app now has an expanded selection of emojis, and the opportunity to trim GIFs in the app.
Watch our Microsoft Teams MAY News Update (2021)
Microsoft Teams Management
Management features also got an update this month. Admins can now add URLs of their choice to website tabs in a Teams template. This means when a user creates a Team with the template, it will include the website specified, making it easier to deliver standardised content to a company.
Microsoft also introduced app customisation and branding capabilities, allowing app developers to specify if they want to provide the option for customers to adjust their app. If developers offer this option, admins can customize properties like app name, icons, and descriptions.
Further updates include:
- Teams’ usage report: Teams user usage reports showcases insights into overall usage in an organisation, with privacy in mind so you can only see your own data.
- Anonymous user reports: Teams admins can anonymise user data and protect privacy when downloading and accessing usage report information.
- Custom policy packages: These allow Teams’ admins to configure their own selection of policy packages unique to users with similar roles in an organisation.
Microsoft Teams Devices
Microsoft has announced updates to both Teams Rooms on Windows, and Android. In Windows, there’s an improved Meeting Join experience with an Advanced Threat Protection safe link function. On Android, users can now access things like the centre of the room meeting console. This allows users to interact with their phone the same way they would a Windows device. There’s also an improved display in Microsoft Teams Room, with insights into the room’s daily schedule.
Android users can join meetings from the Room console in personal mode, applying things like background effects, initiating whiteboards, and recording meetings from an Android device. There’s also intelligent detection and remediation for Teams Rooms. This feature makes it easy to detect vulnerabilities, incidents, and missing security requirements.
Threat detection and security have been updated for Microsoft Teams Rooms for Android, with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to provide extra security.
Elsewhere, Microsoft also announced the initial collection of Microsoft and Surface tools certified for Teams, including Microsoft’s Modern USB and Wireless headsets, and the first Surface Audio device certified for teams. Microsoft’s Modern USB-C Speaker also delivers high-quality sound for those who prefer a speakerphone experience.
For video, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Modern Webcam with 1080p video and “True Look” technology. Third-party products also saw an update, with new webcams from Poly and Yealink. The Yealink UVC20, for instance, offers plug-and-play personal webcam functionality with a privacy shutter. A low-cost Audiocodes C435HD phone and Yealink MP52 phone also support better calls from remote offices.
Frontline Workers and Government
Microsoft’s array of updates also included some changes for specific verticals and groups.
Frontline workers can now access new APIs for Time Clock, so you can integrate with your company’s time and attendance tracking service. There’s also a new Teams Shifts Policy, so companies can allow users who aren’t owners in a Teams site to edit Shift schedules, authorise time off, and approve swaps. This allows managers and supervisors to manage schedules without having to own the entire Teams instance.
Microsoft also enhanced the task publishing features, so teams can better manage their task distribution among frontline workers. As a member of a publishing team, users can see separate drafts, unpublished and published sections, to see where each task is. Teams also made it easier to see the impact of publishing tasks with a new summary experience that displays the number of recipient teams and tasks.
In the Government environment, features currently available to commercial customers began to roll out for the customers in the US Government Community Cloud, High edition, and Department of Defence solution. All of these customers can now manage meeting options across all devices with the “Meeting Options” solution. Additionally, users can set Invite-only meeting options to determine how people are dealt with when they arrive in a meeting without being invited.
Enhanced meeting creation and expiration policies have been delivered, so users can’t continue to use expired links to try and re-join a conference. Additionally, government users have more audio permission settings (muting and unmuting), and more labels in planner to help them categorise and track essential tasks.
Government users can also update their Teams Rooms app with a PowerShell Script, and let their colleagues know that they’re not available by scheduling “Out of Office” time.