Teams got Live Captions to meetings, UI change and federated 1:1 chat are out

Live Captions feature is a big thing. Yes – it is not perfect. Yes – it does sometimes funny mistakes. But the benefits are big:

  • People with hearing problems and read what’s being said It may be a serious issue but it may affect your way to get the message from the presenter.
  • You may have only environment issues: noisy background and no good headphones, distracted by other people talking to you, you are watching the event somewhere where you can’t have audio on. These are use cases we can have monthly or even weekly
  • People who are not native in English can read captions to get a better understanding of the message. Live Events also provide a live translation on top of captions to help cross the language barrier. Most likely this will come to Teams later as well (no information yet).

In all these cases Live Captions help attendees to understand what’s going on, what are key points and overall get a better meeting experience. This is about inclusivity – giving everyone an equal change to join the meeting and participate. You can arrange or join meetings that were not possible earlier. This plays directly into Microsoft’s message Empower every person to achieve more.

Live Captions are not automatically on. Live Captions support only US English at this point and there are no translation to other languages. This feature is in preview.

If you don’t see the Live Caption’s option then perhaps your Teams Admin hasn’t made it possible in Teams Admin Center – Meeting Policies.

What else would be possible now that Live Captions are available?

  • even earlier if you recorded the meeting you were able to search for transcription in Stream (that’s where Teams meeting is stored) – perhaps there would be a live transcription of meeting in the future?
  • translations to other languages would be possible to add (this is already in Live Events) – will they be there during 2020?
  • a bot listening to meeting could potentially be able to pick up keywords and create notes and tasks automatically. This was demoed by Microsoft in Build Conference but an application would be a lot simpler. This requires that there would be some APIs that could be used.

Recent Teams User Interface enhancement

This week also Team’s UI changed a bit. The top section of each channel is not more compact and Conversations-tab was renamed to Posts. There seemed to be some strange translations (if you use Teams in your native language) and at least Finnish version of the Posts got a different translation for a day before settling to current (and lasting, it seems) version.

Federated 1:1 chat is out!

This sounds very technical feature and in the back-end it is. For the end user this just means a better usability of Teams. If your organization is in TeamsOnly mode (Skype for Business is not used anymore and Admin has upgraded your organization to Teams fully) you can utilize Teams chat better than before with externals. Earlier when you were chatting with persons who were outside of your organization (ie your customer or partner) using Teams you could use only plain text in chat. If the other organization is now in TeamsOnly mode as well you can use message formatting, emojis, pictures, gifs and stickers too. Basically: rich messaging. You still don’t get to transfer files or to set up tabs to your conversation.

In a nutshell: you can now communicate better with external organization user’s if both are in TeamsOnly mode.

Looking at the snippet:

  • on top left you can see organization domain ( in my case – I was messaging from my demo tenant to another) and there isn’t a Skype icon anymore. There is also a box saying “External”
  • On bottom there is the message box, and you can see options to format message, add emoji/gif/sticker or schedule a meeting with chat partner

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