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Microsoft Reveals Operator Connect Mobile; Slack Receives iPad Update
Welcome to the latest edition of the No Jitter Roll. In this round-up of the news: Microsoft debuts Operator Connect Mobile and adds a host of hybrid work features, and Slack shares an iPad update, designed with hybrid work in mind.
Microsoft debuts Operator Connect Mobile
The company is partnering with BT, Rogers, Swisscom, Telia, and Verizon to integrate users' mobile identities into Microsoft Teams. With Operator Connect Mobile, Teams users will be able to access their Teams voice services from any device, including laptop, tablet, deskphone, or mobile phone, allowing them to combine call histories and unify voicemails. Additionally, the service can be configured so calls from users' devices appear as though they’re coming from the organization, not the workers' personal mobile numbers.
Users will also be able to move calls across networks and devices. For instance, they can take a Teams call on a mobile carrier while commuting and then continue that call on their office's Wi-Fi network as they enter the office. Operator Connect Mobile also ensures that these calls can be recorded and retained in compliance with business practices or industry regulations.
Operator Connect Mobile for Teams Phone will enter preview in the second quarter with select partners, and Microsoft is working on adding additional operators for other markets.
(See related: Microsoft Set to Launch Operator Connect, What's Next?)
Microsoft adds more hybrid work features for Teams
The new features were developed in response to frequent situations in a hybrid workforce, as Microsoft wrote in a blog post and include:
- Teams Connect set for public preview: Revealed at its Ignite event last year, Microsoft's cross-organization shared channels, Teams Connect, will enter preview at the end of the month. With Teams Connect, Teams users can collaborate with people inside and outside their organization with a shared channel.
- Outlook adds RSVP options: With a new Outlook feature, users can specify in a meeting RSVP whether they'll be attending in person or virtually. These new RSVP options will be available in public preview in Outlook on the web in Q2 2022.
- Companion device for Teams Rooms update: With this update, users who join a meeting in a Teams Rooms with their personal device will have the audio on their personal device automatically turned off to avoid feedback issues. Additionally, the video from the mobile device will be hidden from the front-of-room screen and the gallery of video streams. Microsoft also announced its front row layout, now available in preview, brings the video galley to the bottom of the screen (eye level for easier interaction during hybrid meetings.
- Microsoft Whiteboard in Teams: With an update, Microsoft Whiteboard will receive several new features, including additional templates, collaboration cursors, contextual reactions, and the ability to open existing boards with external colleagues in Teams meetings. These features will be generally available in Q2 2022.
In device-related news, Microsoft shared:
- Surface Hub 2S available with AI features: The Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera is now available and comes with several AI-based features, including automatic framing that dynamically adjust the video of the meeting when someone leaves or joins.
- New Teams Rooms devices from Neat and Yealink: Neat and Yealink are currently in the process of having their touch-enabled display device being certified for Teams Rooms on Android, available in Q2 2022.
Lastly, Microsoft revealed the Inspiration library for Viva Insights, which provides users access to curated content and best practices from sources like Harvard Business Review or Thrive within Teams. A preview for the Inspiration library will roll out to Microsoft 365 users with the Microsoft Viva Insights app later this month, which will be available in 11 additional languages by end of April 2022.
Slack iPad app update brings its closer to desktop app experience
The collaborative workspace platform revamped its app for Apple tablets. The changes include:
- A redesigned two-column layout, which is more like the layout of the desktop version, ensuring user experience continuity; people won't have to significantly adjust workflow as they move through their devices.
- A new left-hand sidebar feature that allows users to group their channels into collapsible sections and have that organization sync to the desktop version of the app.
- Improved labels for Apple VoiceOver screen-reading functionality, which helps users with visual impairments.
“The iPad is a unique device that demands the power of a desktop experience with the simplicity of a mobile app. Our updated iPad app bridges this gap and allows users to stay productive, organized and connected to their digital HQ in a work-from-anywhere world,” said Slack group project managers Akshay Bakshi.