Web users of Microsoft Teams will soon be able to take part in significantly larger video conferencing sessions, thanks to a new update. Previously, the 49-person Large Gallery and the platform's AI-powered Together Mode were only accessible via the Teams desktop app, but will now be available to those using the software via the Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge web browsers.
Together Mode, which was launched in July, uses artificial intelligence to place participants within the same digital space, making video calls feel more reminiscent of an in-person group meeting. The Large Gallery view was launched at a similar time and is particularly useful for larger businesses and schools.
Although many businesses and educational institutions have coped admirably with the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, there have still been challenges along the way. Poorer students, for example, may not have access to a desktop computer, making it difficult for them to access larger classes remotely. The new Teams update should make the platform more accessible.
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In addition to the browser availability of Large Gallery and Together Mode, Microsoft has also confirmed that its breakout rooms feature is now generally available. Breakout rooms make it easier for meeting organizers to divide their calls into smaller sub-groups.
“Organizers can jump in between meetings on their own, deliver announcements to all breakout rooms at once, and bring everyone back to the main meeting at any time,” the Microsoft Teams blog explains. “And unique to Microsoft Teams, breakout rooms can be initiated both in Microsoft Teams channels and in Microsoft Teams meetings to give you flexibility on how you want to meet. Breakout rooms are especially great this time of year for mixing and mingling and playing games during a virtual holiday party.”
As Microsoft notes, video conferencing tools have not only been used for work and study – they have become essential to socializing too. For bigger families, the ability to access the Large Gallery view via a web browser may prove useful as we move towards a coronavirus-disrupted Christmas.
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