A new update to Microsoft Teams could make replying to awkward messages a lot less painful than before.
The video conferencing platform is working on an upgrade that will offer “suggested replies” in chats on Teams.
Already a common sight on the likes of Gmail, SMS messages and more, the suggested replies feature will examine the context of the previous messages and provide a couple of possible responses, handling all the brain work for you.
Microsoft Teams replies
In the Microsoft 365 roadmap entry detailing the update, the company notes that Teams will use “assistive AI” in order to analyze previous messages and create the suggested responses.
Users will get up to three recommended responses to choose from, and will be able to send their choice with just a click.
The feature is still listed as “in development” for the time being, but Microsoft has assigned a general availability date of April 2022, so we could see a launch within the next few weeks.
Upon release, the feature will be available to all Microsoft Teams users across the world using the desktop platform.
The feature is the latest in a series of upgrades for Microsoft Teams as the company looks to make it an indispensable hybrid working tool.
Recently, Microsoft Teams has seen a pair of add-ons introduce real-time translation, giving users access to a large network of professional interpreters, who dial into meetings on request. Once a session has begun, users can switch between the original audio feed and the interpreter’s translation via a drop-down menu.
Microsoft Teams also recently announced it is opening up its live captions feature to a wider pool of users in an effort to improve accessibility standards. Until now, the live captions feature has been gated behind a registration wall, so if someone was joining a meeting as a guest via a link provided by the host, they would have to make do without the accessibility feature.
There is a huge amount of content on YouTube, and a growing proportion of it is accounted for by live streams. While it is often possible to catch up on a live stream after it has ended, this means missing out on the excitement and sense of community that stems from watching a live event at the same time as others.
With this in mind, YouTube is making it easier to locate live streams. Borrowing an idea already used by both TikTok and Instagram, YouTube is making a tweak to avatars to make it clear when a channel is live streaming.
The change means that when a channel is live streaming, a ring will be displayed around its avatar as a clear and obvious indicator. More than this, if you click on the avatar, you will be taken directly to the live stream rather than to the creator's profile.
Ring, ring, ring
YouTube's Chief Product Officer, Neal Mohan, shared news of the change in a tweet:
Really focused making it easier for users to find livestreams on @YouTube so we’re rolling out the Live rings feature on mobile! @YouTubeCreators streaming live will now have a ring around the channel avatar & clicking on the avatar will take you directly to the livestream. pic.twitter.com/QylUbpktumFebruary 18, 2022
Analysis: what about desktop users?
There is no mention of desktop users at the moment, and it's unclear if the feature will migrate from mobile or not.
So, will this make it easier to find live streams? The answer really depends on how you use YouTube. People who are keen followers of a channel will likely be aware of upcoming live streams, and will have created a reminder to ensure they don't miss out. For the casual browser looking for YouTube videos based in comedy, it is unlikely to make a great deal of difference.
Some responses to Mohan's tweet also question the value of the change, but no new feature is ever going to delight everyone in equal measure.
For anyone who is keen to seek out live broadcasts rather than pre-recorded videos, it does provide another quick and easy way to differentiate one from the other. It may not be a change that generates a massive level of excitement from YouTube users, but it is a nice touch that brings the service in line with other video platforms.
As noted in a new entry in the company’s product roadmap, the Microsoft 365 compliance center will receive an upgrade that will cut the time it takes to identify breaches of company communication policies drastically.
“This feature will reduce the detection to investigation time to under an hour, allowing your organization to respond to communication compliance alerts promptly,” Microsoft explained.
The Microsoft 365 update is currently still under development, but is scheduled to roll out in preview in April, ahead of a full launch in the autumn.
Employee monitoring with Microsoft 365
Unbeknownst to some, many businesses constantly monitor the way in which employees interact with one another over email and communication software.
Part of the justification for this practice, considered by some to be an unacceptable invasion of privacy, is that cybercriminal actors frequently target employees over these kinds of platforms, which can also be used by malicious insiders to exfiltrate data.
Another factor is the opportunity for business software to be used to bully or harass fellow employees, in breach of an organization’s official communications policy.
As explained in a Microsoft 365 blog post, the communication compliance facility tracks messages sent and received over email, Microsoft Teams, Yammer and third-party platforms. Once a message in breach of pre-defined policies has been identified, it is handed over to a designated team of reviewers.
After the Microsoft 365 update takes effect later this year, the time between initial detection and review will supposedly fall from roughly 24 hours to under an hour. As part of the change, Microsoft Teams users will also be encouraged to report “inappropriate or concerning messages” within chats and channels manually, a separate roadmap entry shows.
Although businesses will certainly benefit from the upgrade, it is unclear precisely how Microsoft will manage to cut the investigation time by such a significant margin. TechRadar Pro is awaiting a response to a request for clarification.
While it hasn't been officially announced by Nintendo, we've been hearing plenty of rumors that suggest the company will release a third variant of the Switch this year. However, unlike the Switch Lite – which was very much focused on expanding the market at the lower end of the spectrum thanks to its more affordable price – the mooted "Switch Pro" will improve on the base console in new and meaningful ways, offering a more premium experience.
We're sure Switch owners have plenty of hopes and dreams for an upgraded Switch, but what about the people who will create software for this enhanced system? What new features would they like to see which would make their jobs easier, or allow them to take their titles to the next level?
We spoke to a bunch of Nintendo Switch developers to ask them exactly what they'd like to see in the rumored Switch Pro.
More powerful hardware
When it comes to the most requested feature from a development standpoint, "more power" is perhaps the most obvious option.
"I’d love to see a model that has a 1080p screen and the necessary processing power to run Switch docked performance in portable mode," says Thomas Kern of FDG Entertainment, the company responsible for bringing the likes of Oceanhorn and Monster Boy to Nintendo's console.
"It would also be good to see improved hardware to boost framerate just enough to keep existing Switch titles, such as Witcher 3, running at 30fps – or even 60fps – without frame drops. I think technically that’s feasible."
Joel Kinnunen, vice president of Trine studio Frozenbyte, has similar hopes. "Devs always want 'bigger, faster, better', so a beefier CPU and GPU would be nice."
Andres Bordeu, founder and game designer at Rock of Ages studio ACE Team, would also see increased power as the biggest benefit of a new Switch console.
“We probably differ from many independent developers since our projects, while still indie in nature, also aim to deliver incredible visuals powered by the latest tech and we invest a lot of time in research and development. In the indie community, we consider ourselves power users of Unreal Engine 4, which is used to build many Switch games, so a more capable GPU is something that definitely enables studios like ours to bring their creations to Nintendo’s platform.”
Philip Barclay of The Messenger developer Sabotage concurs. “As developers and huge fans of the Nintendo Switch console, one of the things that would be great for a 'Pro' version would be to support additional hardware rendering techniques for larger resolutions. If the Pro version ups the GPU, we could start to see even more amazing content in Switch games.”
Omar Cornut, Technical Director of Wonderboy: The Dragon's Trap developer Lizardcube, is more cautious and warns against hoping for more powerful hardware. "I have to say I love my Switch and I wouldn't want to change it too much; it's a perfect fit for the games we are making. More powerful hardware is convenient, but it also creates a tendency to drive the average game budget higher in order to be competitive, and this has knock-on effects on developers' ability to experiment.
"That said, technical progress is unstoppable; as a player, I wish for the extra power to allow for more Switch games to hit steadier and higher frame-rates across the entire lifetime of the console. A few more gigabytes of RAM and CPU cores would also facilitate porting of cross-platform projects."
The 720p display on the Switch is hardly what you'd call cutting edge, so it should come as no surprise to learn that developers are keen to see that improve as well – although reports that suggest it could come with a 4K panel are frowned upon; Kern doesn't expect to see 4K on the new system himself, saying: "I don’t expect anything 4K, and I personally wouldn’t want 4K on Switch."
Cornut feels that boosting the Switch's resolution could result in an awkward balancing act. "When higher resolutions are available, the tendency is to sacrifice frame-rate. I would much rather have a console where most games are 1080p in stable 60 FPS rather than added support for 4K when docked, which would lead us down the line to more games aiming at 20-30 FPS."
More power under the hood and an improved screen seem to be obvious picks, but some developers want to see other elements of the Switch hardware get the upgrade treatment.
"As the developers of a racing game, we'd be really happy to see support for analogue triggers on the Switch's Joy-Con," says Edwin Smith of Feral Interactive, which ported GRID to the Switch with impressive results.
Cyrille Lagarigue, of Streets of Rage 4 developer Guard Crush Games, would also like to see the control setup expand with the Switch Pro.
"Personally, I'd like Nintendo to take advantage of the ingenious way the Joy-Con slide on the side of the Switch to propose more Joy-Con variants, for bigger hands, or maybe a left Joy-Con with a D-Pad and no joystick for 2D games! Having a Switch Pro would be a great opportunity to add this kind of devices; Pro means more choice!"
Faster internal storage
As we know from the hype surrounding the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the topic of memory speed is going to be a key one in the next-gen war – and Lizardcube's Omar Cornut would love to see some kind of improvement in this area for Switch, too.
"I hope for the internal storage to become a little faster as well as maybe raising the minimum specs of supported SD cards. We have to be considerate of loading data both from internal storage or from a variety of SD – some fast, some slow – and aiming for lowest common denominator can create lots of constraints on game design; for games with large streamed worlds, for example."
Faster RAM would potentially allow for more immersive titles on Switch Pro, which would allow it to maintain some degree of parity with Sony and Microsoft's upcoming systems.
The topic of wireless audio also cropped up when we spoke to Switch developers, with many citing the lack of Bluetooth audio support as being a real negative to the current console. The console lacks a microphone, too, which means that Switch players are missing out when it comes to online multiplayer.
"I’d like to see an aptX low latency Bluetooth chip implemented that supports Bluetooth headphones," says Kern.
Dotemu's Fabien Borel – who is currently hard at work on Windjammers 2 – couldn't agree more, and adds another wish for the Switch Pro. "I think everybody will appreciate the possibility of support of Bluetooth devices such as headphones – and having some kind of achievement system, without it being mandatory for game companies, which is awkward!"
We'll leave the final word for Jérôme Fait of Young Souls developer 1P2P:
"We would be happy if the new one brings better specs, a sharper and brighter screen and maybe better Joy-Con with an official cross D-pad; a 5G connexion or better WiFi and Netflix, and if it could print money [laughs] – but I think that the Switch is perfect as it is."