The best Microsoft Teams goodies will soon be available to all of us

Microsoft is readying an update for its online collaboration platform Teams that will help close the gap between the desktop app and web client.

As explained in a rather cryptic roadmap entry, the “modern meeting experience” will soon be made available to those that access Microsoft Teams via their web browser. In an email exchange with TechRadar Pro, a Microsoft spokesperson clarified precisely what this will entail.

“This ‘modern meeting experience’ update brings features currently available in desktop to web. This includes the modern meeting stage views like Dynamic View, Large Gallery, and Together Mode, as well as the ability to switch amongst those selections. In addition to that, there are updates to the pre-join experience and the control bar,” we were told.

Microsoft Teams for the web

Microsoft began trialling the “modern meeting experience” on the web in February, but is now preparing for a full rollout in June, after which users of the Teams web app will have access to the same breadth of functionality as anyone else.

More specifically, web users will benefit from features like Large Gallery view, which allows for as many as 49 people to appear on-screen at once, and Together Mode, which places all attendees on a common virtual background.

The update will also give web client users new presentation options in the form of Dynamic View, a feature that allows for elements of the meeting screen to be moved around and resized depending on the content being shared.

Lastly, the Teams web app will give users new options in the pre-meeting landing page that will make it easier to select audio and video sources before dialling into a session. 

More broadly, the update can be seen as part of Microsoft’s efforts to ensure the meeting experience is consistent for all Teams users, no matter which client or hardware they are using to dial in. Beyond the upcoming web app update, the company has made a number of additions with this goal in mind.

In recent weeks, for example, Microsoft has announced the expansion of the transcription feature to customers running Teams in a virtual machine, and an update that will improve the meeting experience on Mozilla Firefox. And previously, the company revealed plans to offer up important accessibility features to a wider range of attendees.

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Apple confirms iOS 15.4 update will be available for your iPhone in one week

The next update to iOS 15 has been confirmed by Apple to be landing next week, which may mean we could see it available to download around March 16.

At the March Event, Apple confirmed the last in the line of the M1 chips, called M1 Ultra, which is available in the new Mac Studio. There's also a new iPhone SE 3 / 2022, an iPad Air 5, and a new green color option available for the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro, available to order on March 11.

Every iPhone that was capable of downloading iOS 15 is also eligible to update to iOS 15.4 and take advantage of its new features.

What's new in iOS 15.4?

The tentpole feature for iOS 15.4 is the ability to use FaceID while wearing a mask. It will ask to scan your face while wearing one, in order for the feature to recognise you.

There's also new emoji, such as different hand gestures, a salute emoji, better gender support, and more that you can use in Mail, iMessage and other apps on your iOS device.

A selection of the new emoji added with iOS 15.4

(Image credit: Emojipedia / Apple)

If you have an Apple Card, you can see its available balance in a new widget, alongside the ability to add notes in iCloud keychain, and much more.

You will be able to download iOS 15.4 by going to Settings > General > Software Update, where you will be able to see it as available to update once it releases next week.

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One of the best Microsoft Teams features is finally available to all users

Microsoft is preparing an update for collaboration platform Teams that will extend one of the most useful features to an additional group of users.

As explained in a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, Microsoft is bringing the ability to blur the video background to customers running Teams on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

“Users on Teams on VDI on Azure Virtual Desktop/Windows 365 can blur their background in your video meeting and call,” the entry explains.

The feature still appears to be under development, but should be made available to relevant Microsoft Teams users by the end of the month.

Microsoft Teams backgrounds

Since the transition to remote working, a number of video conferencing vendors have rolled out virtual background functionality, which allows users to obscure the room behind them with an overlay of their choice.

A more subtle option is to blur the background, which has the dual effect of obscuring anything incriminating that might be laying around in someone’s bedroom or home office and focusing the attention on the person’s face.

Although Microsoft Teams has offered such a feature for a while now, it has traditionally been available to users of its desktop and mobile clients only.

After bringing background effects to the web client last month, Microsoft is now completing the set by extending the feature to those running Teams on Azure Virtual Desktop or Windows 365. The broad objective is to ensure the meeting experience is consistent for all Microsoft Teams users, no matter which client or hardware they are using the dial in.

Beyond the virtual backgrounds feature, Microsoft has made a number of recent additions to Teams with this goal in mind, including the ability to control calls using Bluetooth devices, combine work and business accounts and access screen-sharing controls across all clients.

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The all-new version of Microsoft Defender Preview is available now, for free

Microsoft appears to have jumped the gun and released the latest edition of its Windows 11 security tool onto the app store early.

The Microsoft Defender Preview app can be downloaded and used free of charge, but the company has already warned it will only be free during the preview period.

In addition to providing a basic security overview, Microsoft Defender Preview gives details of security alerts that have appeared on different devices. Perhaps the most valuable feature of the app is that it makes it possible to easily check the security of a device without the need, necessarily, to have physical access to it.

Microsoft Defender Preview

In many ways, Microsoft Defender Preview is more of a security dashboard than a security app in its own right. The store listing says that the app lets you “easily manage your online security in one centralized view”, and anyone wanting to make use of the app will have to sign into a Microsoft account.

Once signed in, the app makes it possible to view the security status of any and all devices linked to that account. This can include a number of personal devices, but also devices owned by family members. Precisely what you are able to see here will depend on the type of subscription you are using after the preview period comes to an end.

Microsoft Defender Preview

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Free – for now

It is worth reiterating the fact that once the preview period comes to an end – and Microsoft has not revealed quite when this will be – the app will no longer be free. 

The company points out: “No subscription is required for Microsoft Defender Preview. In the future, Microsoft Defender will require a Microsoft 365 Family or Personal subscription”.

Some users have reported seeing a message informing them that “Microsoft Defender isn't currently available in your region”. But with no official word from Microsoft about availability, it is impossible to say which countries have failed to make the grade.

Via WindowsLatest

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Opera’s gaming browser is available to download on the Epic Games Store

Opera has announced that the gaming variant of its web browser, Opera GX, will also be available to download directly from the Epic Games Store, from today (January 27).

You can download the browser through this link, with this being the first web browser that's available to download on Epic's storefront.

Opera GX is similar to how the regular Opera browser works, but with exclusive features that are tailored to gamers. GX Control can limit the amount of RAM that the browser can use, alongside similar features for Wi-FI or CPU speeds.

Downloading the web browser from Epic Games will be useful if you have a PC that's just for gaming and nothing else, but it also raises the question of whether other gaming browsers are coming to help fill this need as well.


Analysis: it was always heading to this

Having Opera GX and your previously-purchased games, ready to download in one will be a great help for many, especially if you have had to wipe your Gaming PC, and you want to quickly re-download what you had installed before.

It was inevitable that we'd eventually see Opera's gaming browser on a gaming storefront, and it could lead to features from Epic appearing on Opera GX in time, such as downloading games or chatting to your friends through an Epic Games messenger client.

Annette de Freitas, Head of Business Development at Opera Gaming, explained, “At Opera, our mission is to create superior products that people choose to use and install.” Freitas continues. “This mission has led to the development of Opera GX, the browser of choice for gamers, who decide to make it default for its superior features, look and feel. Opera GX is the perfect fit for the Epic Games Store because of this shared passion to create choice and enable a community of gamers.”

Opera GX on Epic Games Store

(Image credit: Opera)

There's the possibility that other vendors in this space, such as Apple, Mozilla, and Microsoft may be looking into a gaming variant of Safari, Firefox, and Edge, but we suspect this is a space that Opera will have on its own for the foreseeable.

When you factor in the other apps that are built into Opera GX such as Twitch and Discord, alongside being able to sync up your RGB to the web browser, it makes sense in the grand scheme of your gaming.

You may feel as though other web browsers, such as Microsoft Edge and Firefox will do the job for browsing sites and downloading files.

But if you either have a hard drive partition that's focused solely on gaming, or a Gaming PC, it makes sense to have a web browser that tries to solve the same need.

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One of the coolest Microsoft Teams features is now available to everyone

The wait is finally over as Microsoft has announced that its walkie talkie feature in Microsoft Teams is now generally available.

The feature, which was first announced two years ago and has been in preview ever since, lets users of the software giant's video conferencing software use their smartphone or tablet as a walkie talkie that can work over both a cellular or wireless connection. 

While Teams' walkie talkie functionality will work on any Android smartphone by pressing and holding down an on-screen button when speaking and releasing the button to listen, it's even more useful on rugged smartphones. This is because many rugged smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy XCover 5 have a customizable button that can be mapped to Teams' walkie talkie feature so that workers won't have to unlock their phones to access push-to-talk functionality.

Teams users can now test out Microsoft's walkie talkie feature for themselves on their Android smartphones and tablets but the company has also gone ahead and brought this functionality to the Teams app for iOS.

Walkie Talkie Functionality

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Dedicated push-to-talk button

In addition to highlighting how Teams' walkie talkie feature can be used on Samsung's rugged smartphones, Microsoft has also announced an expansion of its strategic partnership with Zebra Technologies in a new blog post.

As a result, Teams' walkie talkie feature is now generally available on a wide range of Zebra mobile devices including its rugged TC-series, customer-facing EC-series and its scanning device the MC-series. However, what sets these devices apart from others is the fact that they have a dedicated push-to-talk button so that frontline workers can instantly and securely communicate with their teams with the push of a button.

In a separate blog post, corporate vice president of modern workplace verticals at Microsoft, Emma Williams explained how the company's digital walkie talkie feature is more secure than traditional radios, saying:

“This functionality, built natively into Teams, reduces the number of devices employees must carry, and lowers costs for IT. Unlike analog devices with unsecure networks, customers no longer have to worry about crosstalk or eavesdropping from outsiders. And since Walkie Talkie functions over Wi-Fi or cellular data, this capability can be used across geographic locations.”

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