Microsoft Teams April updates bring new admin features, increased event limits, more

As is the norm every month, Microsoft is today recapping all the new features that have been introduced in Teams over last month and is also listing many of the features that are currently rolling out for users and admins. The blog post today provides quite a long list of features, mainly divided into three categories – IT Admin, Meetings & Calling, and Chat & Collaboration. The post also goes over the features coming to developers, Teams for Education customers, and the Government.

The first in the list is IT Admins. The new Meetings dashboard in Teams now lets admins monitor meeting usage, user feedback, network health, meeting details, devices, and more from a central dashboard. The firm says that the dashboard leverages Power BI capabilities to filter accurate information and drill down on problems effectively. A new call record API will also be generally made available soon for those that want to export meetings and calls data for further analytics.

The service is also bringing Local Media Optimization for Direct Routing to improve voice quality on calls. It also supports streams between Teams and SBCs, even if they are behind corporate firewalls. The service is also bringing the ability to control profile picture settings to admins. Teams’ web and desktop clients will let admins regulate policies on what content is uploaded to the profile pictures.

Teams is also getting new App analytics and reports experience to provide usage insights, the ability to see each app in the tenant, and its active usage stats. The post adds that the “app policies and settings allow admins to manage permissions, define how apps are displayed in the Teams experience, and control availability of custom apps”

Other additions and features include the ability to assign a group policy to a large group of users using Batch policy assignments. There are new meeting controls that include default lobby settings changes that make external participants wait in the lobby. There are new lobby settings for PSTN participants as well.

As for the improvements to meetings and calls, the first improvement listed is the increased simultaneous participant limit for a Teams video conference, which has been increased from four to nine. The firm says that the layout adapts based on the available bandwidth to improve the experience. Another feature that is rolling out early next week is the Raise Hands feature that debuted last month. This provides a visual cue in the video noting that a participant would wish to talk at that moment in the meeting.

Another improvement is the ability to set custom backgrounds during meetings. Customers can select from a variety of presets in the app to swap their current backgrounds with the image. The firm adds that the ability to use custom (own) images will come sometime in May. The iOS version of the app is also getting a background blur feature to help tune out distractions in-call. The iOS and Android versions of the app are also receiving Live Captions. The feature is now only available for the English language.

The firm is temporarily increasing the limit of attendees in Live Events to 20,000. Additionally, 50 events can be hosted simultaneously and the duration of the events is now increased to 16 hours per broadcast. These changes will be reverted on July 1, 2020.

Other enhancements include the ability to share desktop audio in Teams live events, just like in regular meetings. The feature is only available on the Windows desktop app. Another nifty addition is the option to end a certain meeting for all participants by the meeting organizer. Lastly, the service is bringing in the ability to record one-to-one meetings for users that have call recording capability enabled.

As for the chat and collaboration section, the first feature that the Redmond giant is highlighting is the Yammer integration that was originally announced back at last year’s Ignite conference. Yammer users can pin the Communities app to the navigation rail and perform the tasks that they would through Yammer.

In addition to the Yammer integration, the app is also receiving new badges in Praise. The firm says that this is to acknowledge employees’ “exceptional efforts” in challenging times. The badges include Courage, Optimism, and Inclusive. Lastly, the service now lets users edit messages that were cross-posted in channels.

As for improvements for developers, the service is getting two new Power Automate triggers. Triggers such as sending a welcome message when a new teammate joins can be set. The firm adds that users can “build flows directly into Teams using the new triggers”.

As for Teams for education customers, the firm is listing some guidance material for helping education customers use Teams more effectively. Additionally, the Teams live events host capabilities will be made available to Office 365 A1 faculty at no extra cost, helping institutions broadcast live events. However, this capability will be disabled on July 1, 2020.

Lastly, in terms of features coming to Government customers, the firm is bringing private channels to GCCH and DoD customers. In addition to that feature, Advisor for the Microsoft Teams admin center that aids in Teams deployment is now being made available to GCC customers in preview.

You can head to the post here to find more links and how-to guides for the various features listed by the company. While some of these features have already been made available, they are still being rolled out gradually, unless mentioned otherwise.