Windows 11 steals a great Microsoft Teams feature for better video calls

Windows 11 is set to get one of Microsoft Team’s best features, thanks to “Voice Clarity”, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make your voice in calls and recordings much clearer.

Microsoft Teams, an app that many people use for video calls, has a very similar feature that does an excellent job at minimizing and eliminating background noises for people in noisy environments, ensuring they can be heard clearly.

With the feature being so acclaimed, it’s little surprise to see Microsoft bring it to the wider Windows 11 operating system, which would allow the feature to work with other video calling apps. Voice Clarity was announced at Microsoft’s recent ‘Hybrid Work’ event as one of the ways the company is making its products better for people who are now spending their time working from home, as well as in an office.

While the noise-canceling features in Microsoft Teams have proved popular, there’s not a huge amount of love for the application itself, so bringing it to Windows 11 itself could prove a popular move.


Analysis: There’s always a catch

Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Future)

While the idea of making Voice Clarity available to more apps and users, the catch is that at the moment, the feature will only work on the Surface Laptop Studio, a relatively niche product from Microsoft.

That’s certainly a shame, as it means that the vast majority of Windows 11 users still won’t be able to make use of the feature.

It’s a bit of a puzzling decision, and we’ve contacted Microsoft to ask why this is the case. It may be due to some hardware-specific requirements that only the Surface Laptop Studio has. Or, Microsoft could just be limiting the availability of the feature to help boost interest in the Surface Laptop Studio.

But, with an increasing number of us relying on video calls for keeping in contact with friends, family and co-workers, any tools that can help make those calls better is certainly welcome, and we’d love to see Microsoft make the Voice Clarity feature more widely available.

Via Windows Latest

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Windows 11 steals a great Microsoft Teams feature for better video calls

Windows 11 is set to get one of Microsoft Team’s best features, thanks to “Voice Clarity”, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make your voice in calls and recordings much clearer.

Microsoft Teams, an app that many people use for video calls, has a very similar feature that does an excellent job at minimizing and eliminating background noises for people in noisy environments, ensuring they can be heard clearly.

With the feature being so acclaimed, it’s little surprise to see Microsoft bring it to the wider Windows 11 operating system, which would allow the feature to work with other video calling apps. Voice Clarity was announced at Microsoft’s recent ‘Hybrid Work’ event as one of the ways the company is making its products better for people who are now spending their time working from home, as well as in an office.

While the noise-canceling features in Microsoft Teams have proved popular, there’s not a huge amount of love for the application itself, so bringing it to Windows 11 itself could prove a popular move.


Analysis: There’s always a catch

Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Future)

While the idea of making Voice Clarity available to more apps and users, the catch is that at the moment, the feature will only work on the Surface Laptop Studio, a relatively niche product from Microsoft.

That’s certainly a shame, as it means that the vast majority of Windows 11 users still won’t be able to make use of the feature.

It’s a bit of a puzzling decision, and we’ve contacted Microsoft to ask why this is the case. It may be due to some hardware-specific requirements that only the Surface Laptop Studio has. Or, Microsoft could just be limiting the availability of the feature to help boost interest in the Surface Laptop Studio.

But, with an increasing number of us relying on video calls for keeping in contact with friends, family and co-workers, any tools that can help make those calls better is certainly welcome, and we’d love to see Microsoft make the Voice Clarity feature more widely available.

Via Windows Latest

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You can now join a video call straight from Google Docs

Joining a Meet video call is now easier than ever thanks to a new feature that will allow users to join directly from Google Docs, Sheets or Slides.

The Google Workspace update allows users to join a video conferencing call with just a click, meaning there's no need to scrabble around for a calendar invite or email.

Going forward, Google Docs users will see a new icon next to the “Share” button, allowing them to join a Meet video call directly from their document.

Google Docs video calls

The new taskbar will house a full list of all the video calls and meetings a users has scheduled, including dates and times, with the join button showing once a meeting is live.

As mentioned, it will be present not just in Google Docs, but also Sheets and Slides, giving users multiple ways to join.

Google Docs join a Meet call

(Image credit: Google Workspace)

Google says this new approach will also allow users to have the content they are working on open and within sight whilst on a call, rather than needing to juggle multiple apps or browser windows.

The tool was first announced last month, but is now rolling out to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business users now. It will be on by default, with users starting to see the changes immediately.

“To help teams do their best work in the hybrid work world, as many of us begin a return to office, we continue to make enhancements to Google Meet to help ensure that video meetings are inclusive and collaborative no matter the location or device preference,” the entry in the Google Workspace update blog states.

 “We hope this feature makes it easier for everyone in the meeting to collaborate in real-time while having a conversation—all from the same tab.”

Google Meet is also set to soon receive a new picture-in-picture mode, which will allow Chrome users to bring up a floating meeting window that sits on top of other browser tabs.

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Microsoft is making video calls creepier in Windows 11

Windows 11 is getting a new AI-powered eye contact feature for video calls, but rather than making these calls feel more natural, it actually looks pretty creepy.

Announced at its recent event on the future of hybrid work, this new feature aims to use artificial intelligence to make it look like your eyes are looking directly at the person you’re video calling.

Most webcams, including ones built into laptops, sit above the screen, but when we’re on video calls, we’re usually looking at the video of the person we’re talking to, instead of looking directly at the camera. This leads to callers appearing to look down when talking, rather than making eye contact, as most of us would when talking to people in person.

Microsoft’s attempt to fix this by adjusting the video caller’s pupils so they face the screen, in a bid to make video calls, as Windows chief Panos Panay claims, “more human,” is certainly interesting, but from the results we’ve seen so far, the effect appears more unnerving than the company intends.

GIF video showing the eye tracking feature

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: AI has its limits – and this is one of them

In the video clip Microsoft showed, a woman speaks on a video call, and her pupils do indeed make it appear that she’s looking at the screen. However, there are slight glitches that even when subtle, make it clear that something isn’t quite right.

It’s a classic example of the ‘uncanny valley’, where an attempt to synthesise an artificial human causes a sense of uneasiness in real humans, often because of imperfections which tell us that what we’re looking at is fake.

In fact, the uncanny valley can be more pronounced in more realistic attempts, as we subconsciously pick up more minor details, which then increases the impact of the effect, and that’s something that appears to have happened here.

By trying to make video calls in Windows 11 “more human,” Microsoft has actually done the opposite, and when you notice the little issues and glitches, you’re unable to see past the artificiality of it all. Ironically, it seems that this new feature is actually more distracting then if a caller was not looking at the camera.

Thankfully this feature will likely be optional, and there may be future updates that make it look more realistic, but at the moment we can’t imagine many people using it, and it shows that while AI has many fantastic uses, it also has its limits.

  • Check out our pick of the best laptops that you can use for remote video calls

Via TechCrunch

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Microsoft is making video calls creepier in Windows 11

Windows 11 is getting a new AI-powered eye contact feature for video calls, but rather than making these calls feel more natural, it actually looks pretty creepy.

Announced at its recent event on the future of hybrid work, this new feature aims to use artificial intelligence to make it look like your eyes are looking directly at the person you’re video calling.

Most webcams, including ones built into laptops, sit above the screen, but when we’re on video calls, we’re usually looking at the video of the person we’re talking to, instead of looking directly at the camera. This leads to callers appearing to look down when talking, rather than making eye contact, as most of us would when talking to people in person.

Microsoft’s attempt to fix this by adjusting the video caller’s pupils so they face the screen, in a bid to make video calls, as Windows chief Panos Panay claims, “more human,” is certainly interesting, but from the results we’ve seen so far, the effect appears more unnerving than the company intends.

GIF video showing the eye tracking feature

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Analysis: AI has its limits – and this is one of them

In the video clip Microsoft showed, a woman speaks on a video call, and her pupils do indeed make it appear that she’s looking at the screen. However, there are slight glitches that even when subtle, make it clear that something isn’t quite right.

It’s a classic example of the ‘uncanny valley’, where an attempt to synthesise an artificial human causes a sense of uneasiness in real humans, often because of imperfections which tell us that what we’re looking at is fake.

In fact, the uncanny valley can be more pronounced in more realistic attempts, as we subconsciously pick up more minor details, which then increases the impact of the effect, and that’s something that appears to have happened here.

By trying to make video calls in Windows 11 “more human,” Microsoft has actually done the opposite, and when you notice the little issues and glitches, you’re unable to see past the artificiality of it all. Ironically, it seems that this new feature is actually more distracting then if a caller was not looking at the camera.

Thankfully this feature will likely be optional, and there may be future updates that make it look more realistic, but at the moment we can’t imagine many people using it, and it shows that while AI has many fantastic uses, it also has its limits.

  • Check out our pick of the best laptops that you can use for remote video calls

Via TechCrunch

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Windows 11’s built-in video editor removes its biggest drawback

Windows 11 recently got Clipchamp, or at least the video editing app graced the latest preview build of the OS, and now one of the biggest complaints about the free version has been fixed.

Clipchamp – which was acquired by Microsoft in September 2021, and turned up for Windows 11 testers earlier this month, had a major downside in that the basic free plan only allowed for videos to be exported at 480p resolution.

That’s pretty crummy, of course, but now the free version has been upped to include unlimited exporting to Full HD or 1080p resolution, which previously required you to subscribe to the Creator plan (at the price of $ 9 / £8 / AU$ 10 monthly).

There are still benefits for paying a Creator subscription, of course, namely access to stock audio clips and unlimited cloud storage for your projects. Meanwhile, business plans furnish you with extra goodies including stock video clips and the ability to fully brand your creations.


Analysis: A quick change following Windows 11 debut, and a necessary one

It’s good to see 1080p exports coming to the freebie incarnation of Clipchamp, though really, 480p was a very low bar to set, and so this was a move that needed to be made.

It’s obvious enough that Clipchamp being introduced as a Windows 11 app in testing – presumably set to come to the OS later this year in the big 2022 update – brought a lot more attention to the program. And with the spotlight shining more intensely on that export limitation, and perhaps given initial tester feedback, Microsoft decided that the 480p situation had to change (we can but guess).

Clipchamp is, in effect, the return of Windows Movie Maker, giving casual users a built-in and convenient option to quickly edit video clips within Windows 11. However, having to pay for a decent resolution with the end result would’ve severely limited Clipchamp’s usefulness in terms of that positioning.

Via Windows Central

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Windows 11’s built-in video editor removes its biggest drawback

Windows 11 recently got Clipchamp, or at least the video editing app graced the latest preview build of the OS, and now one of the biggest complaints about the free version has been fixed.

Clipchamp – which was acquired by Microsoft in September 2021, and turned up for Windows 11 testers earlier this month, had a major downside in that the basic free plan only allowed for videos to be exported at 480p resolution.

That’s pretty crummy, of course, but now the free version has been upped to include unlimited exporting to Full HD or 1080p resolution, which previously required you to subscribe to the Creator plan (at the price of $ 9 / £8 / AU$ 10 monthly).

There are still benefits for paying a Creator subscription, of course, namely access to stock audio clips and unlimited cloud storage for your projects. Meanwhile, business plans furnish you with extra goodies including stock video clips and the ability to fully brand your creations.


Analysis: A quick change following Windows 11 debut, and a necessary one

It’s good to see 1080p exports coming to the freebie incarnation of Clipchamp, though really, 480p was a very low bar to set, and so this was a move that needed to be made.

It’s obvious enough that Clipchamp being introduced as a Windows 11 app in testing – presumably set to come to the OS later this year in the big 2022 update – brought a lot more attention to the program. And with the spotlight shining more intensely on that export limitation, and perhaps given initial tester feedback, Microsoft decided that the 480p situation had to change (we can but guess).

Clipchamp is, in effect, the return of Windows Movie Maker, giving casual users a built-in and convenient option to quickly edit video clips within Windows 11. However, having to pay for a decent resolution with the end result would’ve severely limited Clipchamp’s usefulness in terms of that positioning.

Via Windows Central

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Save 25% on Cyberlink Photo Director and Director Suite to help those video projects

Cyberlink is one of the leaders in video editing apps – from movies to wedding projects, they're a go-to in making sure that there's an easy process in getting the right edits.

PhotoDirector 365 and DirectorSuite 365 are the latest versions in its editing suites for Windows and macOS, where you can pay for a monthly or annual subscription, rivaling it against similar apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud.

With vacations and events opening up in 2022, there's going to be more opportunity to capture some moments on video, which is where Cyberlink's Suites will come in.

This is why the company is offering a discount on both of these apps until the end of April.

Cyberlink Director Suite: $ 129.99/yr $ 96.99/yr direct
Save 25% – This suite combines PowerDirector, PhotoDirector, AudioDirector, and ColorDirector into one, at 25% off the annual price. For example, you can use video editing features of Chroma Key, Keyframing Multicam in PowerDirector, and then use AudioDirector to use the Vocal Balance feature to level out the audio. If you have a project to create, edit and share from start to finish, this suite will do the job in an interface that’s easy to use, for a cheaper annual price.

Cyberlink Photo Director: $ 54.99/yr $ 40.99/yr direct
Save 25% – This is Cyberlink’s photo editing suite for beginners, but with features to make it easy for anyone to edit photos. From deblurring to layer tools, there’s plenty to use. But not only do you get a great editing suite for your photos, but you also gain access to 4,000,000 images from Shutterstock and Getty images to use for those projects.

While many go for Adobe or built-in apps such as iMovie on Apple's macOS operating system, Cyberlink is one of the few in the category where you can create a project from start to finish, and cover every area that you may have not previously considered.

Every project has to have its time to shine, regardless of whether it's a college assignment or your friend's big day for the summer, which is where a suite of apps from Cyberlink should be able to do the job on your Windows 11 laptop.

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Google Meet wants to try and fix patchy video calls for good

Identifying the issues behind a sketchy or badly-connecting Google Meet video call could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new update.

The video conferencing platform has introduced a new service that will let admins monitor call quality and single out any issues or bandwidth bottlenecks.

The new Meet quality tool will even allow admins to monitor connections over time, spotting if there are any specific times when bandwidth may be in high demand.

Google Meet bandwidth

In a blog post announcing the new tool, Google notes that the service will monitor both inbound and outbound bandwidth, covering both used and available.

“Surfacing this information helps admins visualize participants bandwidth compared to the quality of a call, making it easier for them to determine where a bandwidth bottleneck could be causing low quality,” the company noted.

Google added that knowing which bitrates are available or being used for specific endpoints can be crucial when performing troubleshooting or working to improve call quality in your domain. However such data was previously only available as an average across entire calls, which can make it difficult to narrow down problems during specific points in time. 

“We hope by surfacing this detailed information, Admins can easily troubleshoot or improve call quality for their users,” it said.

The tool is available by default to all Google Workspace customers now, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers.

The news is the latest in a series of updates as Google looks to ensure its video calling tool stays up to speed with competitors such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

Some of its most recent upgrades include allowing up to 500 participants to join a video call at the same time to make it easier to connect and collaborate with colleagues, clients and customers.

Users can also enable live streaming in Google Meet which will allow up to 100,000 viewers to watch at once.

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You can now sign that big contact over a Zoom video meeting

Getting that big business deal signed and delivered could soon be done on a video call thanks to a new partnership between Zoom and DocuSign.

The eSign giant has announced a new DocuSign eSignature app for Zoom that allows users to sign and confirm documents whilst on a video conference call.

With the ongoing pandemic restrictions still making it tough for some organizations, particularly those with operations across the globe, to do face-to-face business, DocuSign says it hopes the new app will make signing agreements online that little bit more personal.

Zoom DocuSign app

“DocuSign eSignature for Zoom enables organizations to reimagine agreement processes with virtual, face-to-face signing experiences that accelerate time to agreement – while building trust and loyalty,” the company said in a blog post announcing the news.

The launch should also make thrashing out any specific details easier and quicker to resolve, with a face-to-face video call much quicker than going back and forth over email.

Signing can be done live by selecting the app whilst on a Zoom call, which is also able to automatically verify a signer's government-issued photo ID or eID in real-time with ID Verification. The host is then able to pass the documents around to the required signees, with all attendees receiving a PDF of the signed contract after the call has ended.

Users won't even need to have an account with Zoom or DocuSign to be able to use the service – just come along to the meeting.

“Employees don't want to spend their days toggling between countless apps and emails, especially when working with customers or partners. They want tools that streamline workflows and easily enable them to connect and collaborate,” said Ross Mayfield, Product Lead, Zoom Apps & Integrations. 

“We’re excited about DocuSign eSignature for Zoom as it allows stakeholders to review agreements together in real time before signing, helping eliminate communication silos and accelerate the completion of agreements.”

The app is available to download from the Zoom marketplace now.

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