2020 was a huge year for Microsoft Teams adoption, brought on primarily by a rapid large scale move to telecommuting due to the global pandemic. As a result, Microsoft had to prioritize its feature update schedule to meet the demands of its new user base. Between April 2020 and November 2020, daily active users went from 75 million to 115 million, up from just 20 million total the year prior. Microsoft hopes to continue this growth momentum for 2021, and one of the ways they will do so will be to continue releasing new features and improvements. I’ve detailed my favorite new Teams features that are slated for 2021 Q1 release, according to the Microsoft 365 roadmap.
Several welcomed improvements to the Teams meeting experience are coming soon, such as dynamic view, which will automatically optimize shared content and video participants. You’ll be able to better personalize the view to meet your preferences. Changes to the screen sharing menu will help presenters and attendees have a clearer idea of what content they are sharing, by better sorting options between screens and individual application windows.
Chat bubbles, which will bring chats sent during a meeting to the forefront on all participant screens, will help keep text messages more involved in the overall conversation. This will pair well with the new live reactions, which are emoji responses that will also be seen by all participants. Those chats and reactions will have the chance to be visible to a lot more people, as the meeting attendee limitation is being increased up to 1,000 people.
Video filters, which are filters you will be able to select before joining a meeting, can help subtly adjust lighting levels and soften camera focus to ensure you look your best in front of all of those potential attendees. To assist in getting everyone into the meeting, you soon can set the default new meeting behavior in Outlook to always be a Teams meeting.
Teams Meeting Rooms
In hopes that normality returns to the workplace, and in person meetings make a come back in 2021, your Team Meetings Rooms will be ready with some control centric new features. These include the ability to control a meeting hosted on an MTR directly from the Teams mobile app on iOS and Android. In person attendees, who at times may not be within arms reach of the MTR hub, will be able to mute mics, turn off cameras, adjust audio, and end meetings right from their mobile device. Forget your mobile device at your desk? No problem! Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, is here to help by bringing voice controls to MTR devices!
Another update to the mobile app that improves the MTR experience is being able to cast content from iOS or Android. This will make ad hoc meetings, where you want to share content but don’t have your PC, more efficient by still allowing you to share that document or PowerPoint with the room.
Teams and Channels
The forefront of collaboration in Teams is not going unnoticed in Q1. My favorite feature coming to Teams and Channels is the addition of shared calendars to Channels. No longer will you have to link to a SharePoint calendar or depend on Outlook. To help keep you organized, and ensure timely turn arounds to your colleagues, you will be able to create tasks within the Task app directly from a chat or channel conversation.
The History Menu will be a new context menu to help quickly jump back to previous locations while navigating teams via the back and forward buttons in the top left of the desktop client. While sticking with the theme of better navigation, Top Hits will be new section seen at the top of the autosuggest results you get in the search bar. These will be the most relevant results across people, chats, files, and more.
These are just some of the new features and improvements coming to Teams in Q1 of 2021. If Microsoft continues with the pace they have been, it’s looking to be another year of great new additions to the way we work and collaborate.