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Teams adds new features for friends and families as we start another WFH

By Ken Wong - on 18 May 2021, 4:48pm

Teams adds new features for friends and families as we start another WFH

Teams Personal could be the family chat app of choice. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

In time for this second Work from Home (WFH) period, Microsoft has rolled out a series of new features and upgrades for their video collaboration tool, Teams.

iOS and macOS users will now have access to Microsoft Teams for personal use. This is meant to be used with friends and family and will offer free 24-hour video calls for up to 300 people in video calls that can last for 24 hours. The company says it will eventually enforce limits of 60 minutes for group calls of up to 100 people after the pandemic but will keep 24-hour individual calls.

Account switching between your work and personal accounts is simple. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Teams Personal will also have some of the same features as Teams for Work. Teams ensures separation is kept between work and personal accounts. All files, contacts, chats, and other information for each account is kept separate and users can switch between the two just by clicking on your profile.

Share backgrounds to pretend you're all in the same place. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

For example, Together Mode can turn any regular video call into a shared virtual environment using Together mode to help feel like you’re in the same space as your family and friends. You can choose from a variety of virtual environments such as a family lounge, coffee shop, or even a summer resort to make it seems like you’re all together even when you’re apart. Live emoji reactions and GIFs can add colour and emotion to conversations.

Teams also makes it easier now to organise plans with friends and family. Bringing people together in a group chat is as simple as adding people using their email or phone number. Even if someone you add doesn’t use Teams, they can still see and respond to all group chats via SMS text messages.

Assign task and keep an eye on their progress. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Once in a group chat, you can create a shared to-do list and assign tasks to others in the group. Everyone in the group can view and edit task details or check-off items when completed.

Conduct Polls and assign tasks easily. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Polls from Teams for Work can be used in Personal to track decisions such as where to meet for dinner or what day and where to hold a birthday party. Once the poll is completed, anyone in the group can act based on the results, whether it’s adding a group event or assigning tasks.

This move by Microsoft could see Teams replace WhatsApp as the family communication app of choice, especially with WhatsApp’s changes to their privacy policy.

In a forum post, a Teams for Work engineer also posted that they would be rolling out the ability to disable all attendee videos, and the ability to disable a single attendee video. The same engineer also responded to a post on having meetings automatically recorded and said that the company was working on it and hoped to share an update soon.

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