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What is New with Microsoft Teams in December 2021?

Here’s a round-up of all the latest features and updates from Microsoft Teams for December 2021

What is New with Microsoft Teams in December 2021?

Successful teamwork and collaboration require so much more than just connecting during meetings or via chat. It’s also about sharing crucial knowledge quickly to keep the work moving forward while also keeping everyone up to speed. Microsoft Teams is your teamwork hub in Microsoft 365, serving as the common platform where you, your teams, customers, partners, and vendors can call, meet, chat, and collaborate all in one place. With Teams, you have immediate access to all your documents and apps. You can easily respond to chat and conversations, join meetings with one click and continue to collaborate.

Microsoft regularly introduces exciting new apps and capabilities to Teams as part of their ongoing efforts to improve Teams.

Here’s a round-up of all the latest features and updates from Microsoft Teams for December 2021:

Meetings

  • CART: Teams can detect what’s said in a meeting and present real-time captions. And, if you’ve turned on the new meeting experience, your captions will include speaker attribution—so you’ll see what’s being said and who’s saying it. Apart from the built-in captioning provided by Teams, you can also get live captions from a Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) captioner in the Microsoft Teams meeting window instead of opening a secondary window. To enable CART captions, go to Meeting options, toggle Provide CART Captions on and select Save to create the CART caption link and send the link in an email to the CART captioner.
  • Word Cloud poll: The Word Cloud form poll has been added to the quiz and multiple-choice poll to keep meeting attendees and audiences more engaged. It allows meeting organizers to set up open-ended questions, collect attendees’ opinions, and quickly view the top text phrases people answered using the Word Cloud data insight. Attendees will view the word cloud view on the answer page. Similar to the current settings for multiple-choice polls, responses on Word Cloud text are anonymous, so other users won’t know who submitted which word to the Word Cloud.

Calling

  • Custom music on hold: Besides playing default music to Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) callers, you can now upload a custom audio file with music or other audio content and configure that audio file to be played to the PSTN caller. For example, your department might want to play a custom announcement or music when external PSTN callers are put on hold. To enable the custom music on hold, the tenant admin will need to upload the audio file, configure the team’s hold policy referencing the audio file, and assign the policy to groups of users.
  • Route calls to an unassigned number: As an administrator, you can now route calls to unassigned numbers in your organization to a user, a resource account associated with an Auto Attendant or a Call Queue, or to an announcement service that will play a custom audio file to the caller. For example, you might want to route all calls to a given unassigned number to a custom announcement or route all calls to a given unassigned number to the main switchboard. To configure, you need to specify the called number or range of numbers and the associated routing for calls to these numbers.
  • Custom call park: Call park and retrieve feature lets users place a call on hold. When a call is parked, the service generates a unique code for call retrieval, which you can then use with a supported app or device to retrieve the call. By default, call pickup numbers range from 10-99, but you can also create your custom range between 10 and 9,999. Your tenant admin can also configure a different call park timeout value instead of the default 300 seconds – you can set the range between 120-1,800 seconds.

Devices

  • Remote sign-out from Teams admin center: As an extension to Microsoft’s remote provisioning capabilities launched earlier this year, Teams now allows tenant admins to remotely sign out of Teams Android devices from the Teams administration center. To provision a device remotely, the admin needs to upload the MAC ID of the device being provisioned and create a verification code.
  • Branch office survivability on Teams phones:  With this new feature, Teams phone users can make PSTN calls even when a branch office loses internet connectivity.  This feature is now generally available for all Teams phones.
  • AudioCodes C455HD IP Phone: This is an executive high-end business phone equipped with the latest technology, such as integrated dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth, GbE support, a touchscreen user interface enabling up to 8 programmable keys, and native support for Microsoft Teams for delivering a seamless Microsoft Teams experience every time.

Collaboration and Chat

  • Microsoft Loop components in Teams Chat: The new Loop components in Teams Chat offer teams more flexibility in getting work done, ensuring everyone always has access to the latest information. This makes it incredibly easy to make decisions, share thoughts, collect data, and track progress in your workflow.
  • Top hits: Microsoft Teams is getting a new feature aimed at improving its search functionality, reducing the need to scroll through all the search results so you can find what you need quickly. Deemed as Top Hits, this new feature will be added to automatically generate the most relevant search results for the user across the different search domains, including people, files, group chats, channels, and teams,

Power Platform and Custom Development

In a move to help declutter the user experience, Microsoft Teams tab actions are being relocated to the tab dropdown menu from the tab header bar. This affects all first-party and third-party application tabs in meetings, chats, and channels, like the Website tab, Assignments, Grades, or Planner. The tab actions include the Copy link to tab, Pop-out tab, Reload tab, About this tab, and Go to website.

Microsoft has also introduced new APIs within the Teams Client SDK that will allow developers to share specific content within their app to the meeting stage from the app side panel experience. Additionally, Microsoft is making it easier to collaborate with anyone outside your organization with Microsoft Teams Connect. Developers can configure custom tab apps or third-party apps in the context of shared channels through the Teams SDK.

Wrapping Up

As a top Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Cloud partner, OnPar Technologies provides comprehensive Microsoft services to organizations in the US and abroad. We’ll ensure you get the most from your Microsoft technology setup and ensure a seamless migration to the cloud. Our Microsoft-certified experts will ensure your Microsoft 365 and Azure environments are proactively managed, secured, and supported.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Special thanks to James Forbis, a member of the Ulistic High Performance Club and Cincinnati IT service professional with 4BIS.