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February-March developments

Microsoft Teams has just announced some new updates for the start of March. The latest enhancements to the Gallery feature in Teams meetings ensure that all participants appear on screen at equal size, regardless of their video status. Users can now control the number of people visible on their screen by adjusting the Gallery view settings. By default, up to 16 participants can be displayed, but this number can be reduced to 4 or increased to a maximum of 49. The new gold outline highlights participants who have raised their hands, enabling all meeting members to easily identify speakers and individuals with questions.

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Users can now conveniently adjust audio and video settings during a meeting without navigating through the Device settings. The drop-down menu next to the microphone icon offers direct access to these controls, exemplified by the adjacent drop-down menu. The drop-down menu from the video icon allows you to alter your background or transition to an avatar conveniently. Meeting organisers will now experience improved functionality. The Meeting Options feature, previously redirected to the browser after setting up a webinar or town hall, will open a modal window within Teams.

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(Source: Microsoft Teams)

Organisers with a Teams Premium license can enhance data security by disabling the ability for participants to forward or copy meeting chats, ensuring increased confidentiality within the platform. An upcoming feature called Together mode, currently in preview, will showcase meeting attendees at the bottom of the screen, fostering a sense of connection, particularly during screen-sharing sessions. Premium users on Teams can elevate their backgrounds using cutting-edge generative AI technology, seamlessly blending physical and digital environments to create more professional-looking room backgrounds. Accessible during a meeting, this feature can be located under ‘Effects and Avatars’ or ‘Video effects’ when the camera is activated. Once enabled, a ‘Decorate’ button appears under ‘Backgrounds’, offering a variety of themes to spruce up the background. 

Google Meet has introduced a feature called room check-in to ensure that all meeting participants can easily identify each other. If users use companion mode on the web, they can check in directly from the green room before joining the meeting. This feature allows everyone on the call to see their name and the conference room they are joining from as soon as they enter the meeting. Previously, users were prompted to check in after joining the call, but now they can do so from the green room.

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Starting in February, users will have the option to use companion mode on Android and iOS devices. Companion mode allows users to participate in meetings easily from their mobile devices. This is convenient for situations where using a laptop is not practical. Users can check in, react with emojis, raise their hand, turn on captions, chat with others, and zoom in on presented content.


Zoom has introduced a new update that supports whiteboard projects on tablets and mobile devices. Users can now access and create whiteboard projects from tablets and mobile apps. This new update allows Zoom users to create flowcharts directly through Whiteboard Content Generation with AI Companion. This functionality allows users to create a flowchart by inputting a prompt through AI Companion or selecting a specific shape. This enhancement makes visualising and refining intricate processes easier, ultimately increasing workflow efficiency within the Zoom AI Companion platform. Meeting hosts will no longer be required to confirm consent using the meeting summary or questions features. Instead, they will receive a brief toast notification at the top of the meeting window, disappearing after a few seconds. Other meeting participants will still see the consent notification as a prompt at the top of the window and must acknowledge it before it disappears.

Are you planning an online meeting or event and need urgent advice?

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Our ConfTech Help desk provides countries and organisations with immediate advice on how to organise and run online meetings and events. Get in touch with us at conftech@diplomacy.edu.

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