This divisive Microsoft Teams feature is coming to Zoom
As part of its filter collection, video conferencing service Zoom has launched virtual avatars into beta worldwide.
Announcing (opens in new tab) the new feature on its blog, Zoom said that the avatars would make meetings “more flexible and fun”, allowing users to “display [their] ‘virtual you’”.
The “original and fun” feature comes relatively hot on the heels of Microsoft Teams adding similar, albeit better looking avatars to users in the Technical Access Program in October 2022, that in turn are reminiscent of those seen in Meta’s Horizon Workrooms workplace metaverse.
In its post, Zoom claims that avatars help people appear present and engaged, allow them to present “more dynamically”, and enable “fun activities” in the hybrid workplace.
While its possible that users of the service who prefer to keep their cameras off might find avatars a suitable middle ground, others more ambivalent to the concept of “workplace fun” might struggle.
Figuring out ways to make meetings more painful seems to be a top priority for the largest collaboration tool providers out there.
In December 2022, TechRadar Pro reported that Google Meet deemed three bizarre face filters ready for human consumption, following Zoom’s own reveal of similar filters in March that year.
However, innovations to video calling could pose far more dangerous problems than embarrassing filters. As TechRadar Pro reported in November 2022, Zoom announced at its annual Zoomtopia event that the app was announced to be coming to “all new Tesla models soon”.
Avatars for Zoom were just one of four features recently announced by the company. Following in the footsteps of Teams Premium, it now offers customizable setting templates for meetings based on size and situation, including large meetings and classrooms, to make setting up meetings easier.
Threaded conversations, a staple of Slack (and now also Google Chat) are now also available, alongside a roll out of the Q&A feature, previously reserved for webinars, to all meetings, if enabled by an administrator.