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Microsoft has a whole bunch of new Teams features, including intelligent speakers

Microsoft Intelligent speaker in office
Office with Teams Rooms intelligent speaker

Today, Microsoft is kicking off its spring 2021 Ignite conference, and you know what that means. It's time for a whole bunch of Teams features.

One of the things being announced is Microsoft Teams Connect, which lets you share Teams channels outside of your organization. It will show up in a user's primary tenant alongside the channels that the user normally sees, and you have access to the same collaboration features that you're used to. Admins can control everything, of course, so they can control how data is shared. Teams Connect is available now in private preview.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams Connect
Microsoft Teams Connect

PowerPoint Live is now generally available in Teams. It actually lets an audience interact with a PowerPoint presentation that's being shared in a meeting. Attendees can cycle through a presentation at a speed that's comfortable to them, so it lets presenters be a bit more creative with what they include in a slide.

Screenshot of presenter mode in Microsoft Teams
Presenter mode

Next up is presenter mode, which is coming this month. This gives the presenter more control over how content is shared. For example, with Standout, you can put your video feed in front of shared content so you can also be seen speaking, or there's a side-by-side view. There's also a Reporter mode that puts content over your shoulder as a visual aid.

Also coming next month is dynamic view. This arranges different meeting elements for a better presentation, and presenters can place the gallery at the top of the meeting; that way, all of the presenters can have better eye contact with the audience.

That's not all, because there are a bunch of Teams Rooms features. In fact, Teams Rooms now includes Together Mode, which can put all of the meeting participants in a virtual environment. There's also new hardware that Microsoft is certifying for Teams Rooms. Devices like the Dell Video Conferencing Monitor and the Poly Studio P21 are meant to be optimized for Teams meetings.

Microsoft Intelligent speaker on white background
Intelligent speaker

Finally, Microsoft is going to start a private preview for intelligent speakers later on this year. You might recall that the company demoed this kind of thing at its Build conference in 2018, but it's meant to be able to tell who's speaking in a meeting. They include a seven-array microphone that uses AI to tell the difference between up to 10 voices.

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