Zoom is rolling out a wave of updates in an effort to increase engagement among meeting attendees as hybrid work grows.
The new changes to the video conferencing service are a Collaborate Mode and Breakout Rooms. Collaborate Mode allows hosts to start a creative experience for attendees and have them interact with an app. Breakout Rooms are closed-off discussion spaces from the main meeting room where people can have a more focused conversation.
Both features will be coming out to all browsers that host Zoom, with users able to download now.
For starters, the whiteboard app Miro will have a new collaborative workspace where participants can pull together ideas and notes in real-time. There are templates available for structured discission or you can let people freely play around with various visual tools.
To break up awkward introductions, Zoom is adding the #AskAway app from developer Playco to its platform. Basically, the game is a series of rounds where one person gets asked a question about their personal life, favorite foods, and more to get to know them better.
And the last noteworthy Collaboration Mode is seen in the Coda app. Coda is a word processor app where you can write documents and take input as you hold a meeting. Under the new mode, you’ll be able to bring in new people to write the document alongside you.
Breakout Rooms appear to be more creative. The feature isn’t just fancy private rooms but some incorporate games into meetings.
Funtivity by Hermis has a series of in-meeting games where people can play head-to-head or in teams. It’s a way to break the ice or train people, according to Zoom. As an example, Funivity has Star Wars trivia and Escape Room games with more on the way.
If you’re interested in a metaverse-like setting, the Welo app is now on Zoom. Welo incorporates a digital house where people are represented by an avatar and can go off into individual rooms for a private meeting.
You can move from one private meeting to another by having your avatar walk over to the other group and connect automatically. It’s supposed to feel like you’re at a party where you leave and join groups smoothly (ideally). Welo is in beta right now. The developer admits that certain features may not work as intended, but they’re working on it.
If you want something similar to Welo but that’s more stable, there’s twine for Zoom which use an algorithm to pair people based on criteria. But Welo seems a lot more fun.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.