A new Microsoft Teams feature may give the video chat service an edge over your zany Zoom backgrounds. With Together Mode, Teams uses AI to digitally place you in a shared background with up to 49 of your coworkers — so it looks and feels more like you’re sitting in the same room with them while meeting remotely, similar to a VR experience, CNET editor Scott Stein said.
Together Mode helps you focus on people’s faces and body language, making it easier to pick up on nonverbal cues that often get lost during video conferences. You’ll be able to choose from different views, like sitting in an auditorium or at a conference table. It will also help cut down on video meeting fatigue by making video meetings feel more like in-person ones, Microsoft said in a Wednesday blog post.
Read more: Microsoft’s new Together mode in Teams puts your video chat in a shared virtual space
Together Mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August. More views will be coming in the future.
Here’s how to use Together Mode once it rolls out to your Microsoft Teams account, according to a Microsoft demo video:
- Make sure you’re running the most updated version of Teams.
- Start a call in Teams.
- Click the three dots on the toolbar at the top left of the screen.
- Click Together Mode.
From what we can tell so far, the app will then digitally transport you and your coworkers into a digital auditorium together.
Read more: 10 free Zoom alternative apps for video chats
With many people working and socializing from home during the coronavirus pandemic, video chat services like Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger Rooms have seen massive increases in users. While Zoom took an early lead, adding millions of daily meeting participants, security issues led some people to move to other platforms.
Along with Together Mode, Teams is rolling out a number of other updates, including a hand-raising and emoji-creating tool, whiteboard support, Cortana integration and transcriptions of meetings.
For more, check out how Teams compares to Zoom, and how to customize your Teams background.