What’s new in Microsoft Teams in 2022?
Software developers routinely release updates for their applications. Most users are familiar with receiving regular revisions that sometimes add helpful new features and occasionally correct bugs in a program’s performance. Almost everyone, at some point, stares down a progress bar as updates download and install. Haven’t we all used just such an opportunity to brew a new cup of coffee?
Microsoft Teams, the messaging, videoconferencing and file sharing application, is no stranger to the practice. Although 2022 is only half over, the business collaboration platform has already received its fair share of updates. As is so often true, some of the patches tweak performance or security. But updates also introduce new capabilities.
Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with Microsoft Teams’ new features pays continued dividends. Although it’s natural to become accustomed to a routine saving files within different department groups, coordinating weekly workflows and tasks with colleagues (including when working from different locations and time zone) and conducting regular meetings using Teams, taking a moment to learn new features is worth the time, as you may learn new ways of working, discover shortcuts and identify components with which you were previously unaware.
Microsoft introduced Teams updates throughout the first half of this year. New software was regularly released for both desktop and web versions of the application as well as the iOS and Android device versions. From tweaking audio playback during videoconferences to pinning helpful chat messages, Teams boasts a host of new capabilities in just the year’s first half. One of the most popular new features, though, might be among the first introduced in 2022.
In January, Microsoft updated the Teams’ web version to support background effects. Whereas personal and SMB customers previously required the desktop version to blur a videoconference attendee’s background, the web version now permits uploading and applying custom background images. Those using the web version can, in the meeting pre-join screen, follow these steps to customize their background:
- Click Background filters or Background effects.
- Choose Background settings.
- Add a new Background (except in Teams for Windows 11), choose no background effects, blur the background or select an available background (again, except in Teams for Windows 11).
- Click Join now.
Earlier this year, Microsoft also updated Teams to permit disabling mirrored video previews. The small window that provides a preview when sharing video with other participants can sometimes prove distracting. Presenters, however, can now elect to turn off video mirroring within Teams meetings.
Users can access the feature from two locations. Enable or disable video mirroring by sliding the Mirror my video radio button when selecting audio and video settings before entering a meeting. Alternatively, users can change the setting once they’ve joined a meeting by clicking the More (three dot) icon at the top of the Teams window and selecting Device settings.
Note, when changing the “mirror my video” setting, the changes persist. Be sure to re-enable video mirroring before hosting your next meeting, should you wish to preview video again. New chat density options arrived early in 2022, too. Users can adjust the spacing on chat message text to prove more compact or spacious according to personal preference. To adjust chat message text spacing within Microsoft Teams, click Settings and more and within the Chat density section click Compact or Comfy.
Pinning a chat message—marking a specific message so that it remains visible to the chat sessions’ participants—is likely to prove a popular new feature. The acts of hiding, unhiding, muting and pinning a chat message within Teams are just a few clicks away, now. Pinning a chat message, for example, is now a quick couple clicks. To pin a chat, open the chat list within Teams, then navigate to the conversation possessing the chat you wish to pin, select More options and then click Pin. Just before the end of the first quarter, Microsoft introduced three more new Teams capabilities. In March, Teams received features aimed at assisting collaboration.
New chat filters permit removing meeting and bot activity from conversation searches. Within the chats screen, just click Filter and select Chats, from where you can type a person or group to refine a search. Microsoft released two other Teams updates in March. Support for hi-fi music streaming within a Teams meeting and confirming a colleague’s time zone were two additional features included with later winter updates.
Audio and Video
In April, new updates extended audio enhancements within Teams. Sharing system sounds from your computer while attending a Teams meeting using Chrome-based browsers became available, and educational users began receiving notifications when attendees played music. Although Teams works to eliminate non-speech sounds and other potential sonic interruptions during Teams meetings, the music alert assists educators in choosing whether to permit music playback or block it to minimize disruptions for other participants.
Educators also received, with April Teams updates, the ability to manage participants’ video streams. The option to adjust attendees’ audio and video permissions further extends educators’ ability to lock down and best administer meetings with multiple participants. Considering Microsoft also owns LinkedIn, another capability introduced in spring 2022 should catch no one by surprise. Chat participants’ LinkedIn profiles are now accessible by simply clicking the LinkedIn tab of the corresponding chat session.
A pair of government account features, as well as a few universal Teams updates, debuted in May. Government users received the ability to use bots within chats by clicking the Apps option and adding a bot to the chat conversation, as well as the ability to schedule and administer webinars within Teams. Messaging all a team’s owners at once—using @team owners—came online in May, too. But the month’s new features didn’t end there. Teams also introduced the ability for meeting organizers and presenters to begin meetings with all participants’ screens set to the same view using Together mode. To change every attendees’ view, click View, select Together mode, click Change scene, then check the Select Together mode for everyone after choosing a scene but before clicking Apply.
In late spring, Teams users also began being able to choose how Teams meetings appear within their calendars—including Outlook—when scheduling meetings using Teams. While it’s a little surprising the feature took as long as it did to arrive within Teams, the setting is sure to find frequent use, as meeting owners can choose from several familiar options, including Free, Tentative, Busy, Working elsewhere and Out of Office. The new “show as” feature is accessible from the Show as link found at the top of the meeting window. With the summer season, Teams updates introduced four additional features. Teams users can now chat with themselves. While that might initially sound suspicious, the ability to collect reminders and notes and store files—including audio and video content—within Teams can help users better organize material when collaborating on projects and initiatives, whether using desktop or laptop computers, smartphones or a tablet such as an iPad.
Refreshed meeting experiences were also extended to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge users in June. Users of those platforms can now configure microphone and camera settings before joining a meeting, abilities native app users already enjoyed. Microsoft Whiteboard-powered annotation was introduced in June, too. To use the enhancement, click Start annotation when sharing a full-sized screen in Teams. The shared screen outline will turn from red to blue to note attendees are seeing the Microsoft Whiteboard toolset, from which any user can begin annotating. A wealth of other annotation options are available and explained on Microsoft’s Teams website.
Live transcription and real-time captioning services were also extended to Chrome and Edge browsers in June. With background noise, sometimes choppy audio connections and a variety of other distractions always competing for users’ attention, the ability to view captioning or access a live transcription goes a long way in assisting communication and collaboration.
More Microsoft Teams updates coming
Should you wish to track what’s new in Microsoft Teams as the year progresses, you can use Microsoft Teams updates website. The company regularly posts alerts—such as Microsoft Teams stopped supporting Internet Explorer 11 beginning on November 30, 2020—and new features announcements there.
Still have questions?
If you have questions regarding Microsoft Teams, or if you need assistance creating a Microsoft 365 account and implementing Microsoft Teams as part of your deployment, let Louisville Geek help. Our Teams experts can be reached at 502-897-7577 or by email at [email protected].