Microsoft has unveiled several new features and capabilities for its Office productivity suite to better suit the needs of the new hybrid work era. The Redmond giant also announced this morning a new AI-powered Surface Hub Smart Camera, and Teams Rooms innovations to help users improve the remote meeting experience.
First off, Outlook on the web is getting a new RSVP feature that will let meeting attendees specify and choose to participate remotely or in person. This new capability should help organizers book meeting rooms that can accommodate all participants. The RSVP experience is slated to begin rolling out in preview to Outlook on the web later this year.
Microsoft is also planning to bring new Loop components to Outlook mail. Microsoft Loop components arrived in Teams last year, and they allow users to plan, complete action items, collaborate with team members on projects. Microsoft says that this feature is already available in the Office Insider Beta channel, and users can try it right now.
In addition to the new Teams features, Microsoft has also announced the new Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera. This new AI-powered camera comes with “automatic reframing, wide field of view, and intelligent image correction” capabilities. Microsoft’s Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera can detect and track people’s posters and ensures that everyone present in the meeting is visible to remote participants. The Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera is available to purchase now, and it costs $799.99.
Microsoft has also unveiled some new Teams certified touch-enabled displays from its partners such as Yealink and Neat. These new Android-powered meeting room solutions will be available in the coming months.
Microsoft PowerPoint is introducing new capabilities that should help to make hybrid presentations more impactful and engaging. Later this year, Microsoft is adding a combined Recording Studio and Cameo experience to PowerPoint. This update will let users annotate slides, choose custom backgrounds as well as select during views while recording their presentations. Similarly, it will enable presenters to integrate their Teams camera feed directly into a PowerPoint presentation.
Microsoft is continuing to improve the collaboration experience in Teams with a skin tone selector option and Fluent 3D emojis. These updates are currently available in public preview for Microsoft Teams users. Language Interpretation, a new feature that allows human interpreters to translate everything that is said by the speaker during a meeting in real-time, is arriving in late 2022.
Shared Channels is another much-anticipated feature coming to Microsoft Teams later this month. With Shared Channels, users will be able to collaborate seamlessly with internal and external partners without switching tenants.
Microsoft is also bringing a new AI-powered feature, Speaker Coach, to Teams in Q2 2022. This tool is designed to monitor the speaker’s pace during meetings and provide feedback. It also checks if the presenter keeps eye contact with the camera and reminds them to interact with their audience.
Last but not least, Microsoft is updating the Whiteboard app in Teams with new collaboration features later this year. The list includes contextual reactions, more than 50 new templates, collaboration cursors, and much more.