In July 2020, Microsoft first announced that Teams will get new features focused on personal life of users. In December 2020, Microsoft expanded the availability of these personal features to Teams desktop and web app. After testing the features for several months, Microsoft today announced the general availability of personal features in Teams to users around the world on desktop, mobile, and web.
Microsoft Teams personal supports following features:
- Start a personal chat or create a group chat with up to 250 people.
- Seamlessly sync your existing chats from your phone to your computer and carry-on conversations on the device of your choice.
- Talk all day for free with friends and family via video or audio calls.
- Share video meeting invites with anyone, even if they don’t have Teams, and see up to 49 of your friends and loved ones in one frame in Gallery view or Together mode.
- Upload and share photos and videos from your computer in any personal or group chat.
- You can chat with contacts who don’t have Teams installed on their phones. Simply type a contact’s name or phone number to add them to a group chat and, if they are not on Teams, they can receive and send replies to the group via SMS, keeping the conversation flowing. This feature is available in preview for users in the US and Canada.
- You can allow your loved ones to receive automatic alerts whenever you leave or arrive at a designated location. So, if you are stepping out of your home on a daily basis, you can choose to let your family get automatic departure or arrival alerts so that they know when you will be back home.
- Add group events from your chats to your device’s calendar.
- Get task and location updates in your activity feed.
- Add a photo to your personal Safe.
Microsoft today also announced new personal features coming to Teams. You can read about them below.
With Together mode, video call fatigue is reduced because your brain doesn’t have to work as hard when compared to a standard video call. You can choose from a variety of new virtual environments such as a family lounge, coffee shop, or even a summer resort to make your calls more engaging, fun, and connected, even when you’re apart.
And when at work, I love bringing more emotions and personality to our Teams meetings using live emoji reactions and GIFs, so I can’t wait to use them to spice up calls with my friends and family.
The best thing is that if you miss a call where everyone in your group got together, you can always come back to catch up, read the chat thread and post your favorite GIF to carry on the conversation because chats in Teams don’t go away even when your call is done.
When setting up a video call, we don’t want anyone to worry about who can use Teams or whether you need different links for different devices. Video call links in Teams can be shared with anyone—even if they don’t use Teams. Your friends or family can join a meeting using any device (PC, Mac, iOS, and Android) or web browser. This makes it so easy to plan everything, from a small get together with family or even a virtual wedding. Plus, you can invite up to 300 people so there’s room for everyone.
Take it beyond chat and bring plans to life
Let’s face it, organizing plans with friends and family—even something simple—can often be a giant pain. You have to coordinate across multiple apps to manage everyone’s calendars, track tasks, share relevant documents, and so on. Teams makes all of that easier because you can now manage tasks both big and small without ever leaving your chats.
First, bringing people together in a group chat is as simple as adding people using their email or phone number. Even if someone you add doesn’t use Teams, they can still see and respond to all group chats via SMS text messages2.
Once in a group chat, you can create a shared to-do list and assign tasks to others in the group. Everyone in the group can view and edit task details or check-off items when completed.
I also love that I can convert a message from a group chat into a task, so if my wife reminds me that we’re out of bread, I can add it directly to the grocery list. This way, whether it’s managing chores at home or planning the next weekend trip, I can get to the finish line with the help of everyone.
But what happens when the group has to make a decision? This was another place we knew we could take our learnings from Teams for work and apply it to consumers—with polls. Polling is a great way to track decisions such as where to meet for dinner or what day to hold Grandma’s birthday party.
What makes Teams unique is that once the poll is completed, anyone in the group can take action based on the results, whether it’s adding a group event or assigning tasks. To do this today, you’d have to use three different apps; one to coordinate through chat, one to add it to everyone’s calendar, and one for tasks. Now you can do it all in Teams. Polls is coming soon, and I can’t wait to use it to get my family to decide what to order for dinner.
It is also super slick to see the dashboard view in every chat. The dashboard neatly organizes all your group’s shared content, from photos, files, web links, shared tasks, and upcoming group events. This has saved me so much time because I can now quickly jump in and out of my different group chats and easily access all the shared information related to that chat. For example, when I go to the chat with my family, I can see my kids’ locations on the map3 or check what tasks my wife asked me to help her with. Then I can jump over to one of my group chats with friends, and I can see all the photos they shared with me, plus help fill out the spreadsheet they started to track all our favorite restaurants.