Zoom is shutting down one of its most popular apps

One of the most widely-used Zoom apps is closing as the company looks to modernize some of its offerings for users around the world.

The video conferencing giant has announced it is shutting its app for Chromebooks, the low-cost machines running Google's ChromeOS that have become incredibly popular among schools and universities.

Users shouldn't fear the loss of Zoom forever though, as the company says it is only making the change in order to build something better.

Zoom on Chromebook

“This app will no longer be officially supported after August 2022. Please use the new Zoom for Chrome PWA to join meetings on ChromeOS,” said a notice in the Zoom app for Chromebooks that has recently begun appearing.

The app is set to close by August 2022, meaning users have a few more weeks of the original offering, which was released during Zoom's heyday in the early weeks and months of the pandemic.

9to5Google, which first spotted the alert, notes that the Zoom app for Chromebooks is pretty basic, only offering standard access to video calls and meetings without any of the added functionality that has been added to other versions of Zoom over the years.

Google had announced back in August 2020 that it would be phasing out Chrome apps on all platforms, with support on Windows, Mac and Linux ending in June 2021. This was later extended to all Chrome apps on ChromeOS for June 2022, with the company no longer accepting new apps, and existing apps no longer being listed or made available to download on the Chrome Web Store.

Zoom had shown off a Progressive Web App (PWA) for Chromebooks in 2021, offering much of the standard functionality familiar to users on other platforms, as well as up to date UI and apps.

The news comes shortly after Zoom recorded a huge rise in enterprise customers to go alongside its consumer base as hybrid working remains popular.

In its most recent financial results, the company said that the number of customers contributing more than $ 100,000 was up 46% year-over-year, as it now has around 198,900 enterprise customers, up 24% from the same quarter in its last fiscal year.

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Zoom expands AI-powered tools for salespeople

As more and more businesses continue to return to offices, Zoom is looking to cement its position as one of the best enterprise apps out there. 

At its recent Work Transformation Summit, the  video conferencing giant unveiled Zoom IQ for Sales, an AI-powered service for salespeople that is able to quickly analyze sales meetings and produce insights. 

Zoom IQ is an add-on for Zoom Meetings and aims to help organisations become more efficient by highlighting important insights that might otherwise be missed. The service is integrated in Zoom (naturally), Salesforce, and other enterprise services. 

A platform for work 

“Zoom is always searching for ways to help our customers elevate their end customers’ experience and Zoom IQ for Sales is the latest development in that journey,” Zoom's Josh Dulberger told TechCrunch

“Zoom IQ for Sales … [can] identify opportunities, assess risks and ultimately enable and improve sales team performance. It uses natural language processing models to process post-meeting transcripts and deal progress data, generating insights for sales reps and managers.”

Zoom IQ for Sales is available now as an add-on for Zoom Meetings customers with the company adding that support for Zoom Phone is also coming soon

While Zoom was an early winner from the pandemic, its fortunes since have been mixed. The company's stock, which rocketed up and to the right in 2020, has come back to earth with a thud. 

After reaching a high of $ 559 in October 2020, Zoom now trades at $ 114, a not unrespectable figure but a far cry from where it has been. 

Efforts like IQ for Sales are Zoom's attempt at expanding its usefulness to organisations beyond purely video calls – and compete with Microsoft Teams.

After being a little slow off the block, Microsoft went into overdrive to build and promote Teams, which seamlessly integrated with the broader Microsoft 365 suite. 

Microsoft's ploy worked: Teams now has over 270 million monthly active users, according to the company, up from around 250 million in July 2021. 

Whether Zoom can catch up remains to be seen, but tools like IQ for Sales are a very good starting point. 

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Zoom will now let you live stream your boring old meetings to Twitch

If you're looking to liven up your next business Zoom meeting, the company has now revealed that users will be able to livestream video directly to popular online streaming platform Twitch.

In a blog post announcing a whole host of new upgrades and features, the video conferencing giant said that call hosts will now be able to livestream their meeting or webinar to Twitch directly, rather than manually configuring the stream as a custom livestreaming service.

Zoom says that the move will help its customers, “streamline the process of sharing content within their communities and extend their reach” although quite how interesting your weekly team catch-ups will be to a wider audience remains to be seen.

Zoom & Twitch

The feature is available to Zoom users everywhere now, but anyone looking to start a Twitch stream will need to have approval from the Zoom account owner or admin, which should help cut down on potential slip-ups.

Alongside the Twitch news, Zoom also announced users will soon be able to share computer audio and other content with breakout rooms.

This feature, which Zoom says will create, “a more cohesive experience for participants,”  can be enabled when the host begins to share content, or while sharing is in progress.

Livening up your video calls appears to be something of a trend for Zoom, which also recently announced new animated avatars. With choices ranging from cat to cow, raccoon, bunny, dog and more, the avatars not only replace the original video feed, but also mirror the user’s head movements and facial expressions courtesy of a few AI tricks.

Zoom has also given administrators the ability to configure  virtual backgrounds to reset to a chosen default after each meeting, reportedly to help avoid situations whereby sensitive data is exposed in a virtual background.

And when it comes to video, the company has also recently rolled out a feature that allows meeting hosts to add a video to the virtual waiting room. This video will play while participants wait to be allowed into the call, and admins can also now enable and disable the watermark feature in the middle of a meeting.

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New Microsoft Teams app eliminates an obvious advantage for Zoom

A new add-on has introduced real-time translation functionality to video meetings on Microsoft Teams, closing the gap on rival vendor Zoom.

The service is supplied by a company called Interprefy, which was invited to integrate its cloud-based translation offering into Microsoft Teams.

The integration gives Microsoft customers access to Interprefy’s 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.


(Image credit: Interprefy)

Live translation for video meetings

Back in June 2021, Zoom announced the acquisition of live translation startup Kites GmbH, which was brought on to help develop machine translation (MT) solutions that would allow users to communicate in real-time with colleagues from across the world.

“We are continuously looking for new ways to deliver happiness to our users and improve meeting productivity, and MT solutions will be key in enhancing our platform for Zoom customers across the globe,” said Velchamy Sankarlingam, President of Product and Engineering at Zoom, at the time.

Although this vision hasn’t come to fruition just yet, Zoom has also long offered the ability for human interpreters to dial into meetings via a feature called Simultaneous Interpretations.

Until now, Microsoft has been able to offer neither machine-based nor human translation, but the integration of Interprefy into the Teams platform will fill this gap in lieu of a first-party offering.

“We're thrilled to have been working closely with Microsoft in bringing Interprefy's multilingual meeting expertise to Teams users worldwide”, says Oddmund Braaten, CEO at Interprefy. “This is a huge step towards inclusivity and accessibility of global meetings to foster cross-cultural understanding and collaboration.”

Separately, but in a similar vein, Microsoft announced earlier this week that it would open up its live captions feature to a wider pool of users in an effort to improve accessibility standards.

Introduced soon after the shift to remote working as a result of the pandemic, the Microsoft Teams live captions feature is designed to ensure all video meeting participants can follow the thread of conversation effectively.

Until now, the live captions feature has been gated behind a registration wall. In other words, 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. But this will no longer be the case, courtesy of an update expected to land by the end of April.

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Zoom says it’s not going anywhere just yet

Video calling giant Zoom says it is looking at a shift in focus as it looks to evolve and move with the changing work environment.

The video conferencing company has revealed its latest quarterly results at the end of its FY 2022, showing another strong performance even as workers around the world return to the office, but its weaker outlook for the year ahead did raise some eyebrows.

Overall, Zoom saw Q4 FY2022 revenues of $ 1.07 billion, up 21% year on year, with total revenues for the whole of its FY2022 of just over $ 4 billion, up 55% year over year, with net income of $ 1.37 billion.

Zoom future

In order to stay successful going forward, Zoom says it is now looking to set its sights on larger, enterprise customers.

“In fiscal year 2022, we delivered strong results…along with increased profitability and operating cash flow growth as our global customer base continued to grow and find new use cases for our broadening communications platform,” said Zoom founder and CEO, Eric S. Yuan. 

“Looking forward, we are addressing a large opportunity as we expect customers will continue to transform how they work and engage with their customers. It is apparent that businesses want a full communications platform that is integrated, secure, and easy to use. We are proud to lead the charge of the digital transformation for communications.”

After seeing a huge rate of growth during the pandemic, many have questioned how Zoom can stay relevant and profitable as the return to the office continues.

However the company has remained bullish, saying it can play an important role in the post-pandemic world through helping facilitate and encourage hybrid working as employees look to split their time between the office and a more comfortable home environment.

It has also been testing the waters in several new areas and industries, including the launch of Zoom Contact Center, a customer service platform that lets companies quickly interact with customers.

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Zoom is getting into the customer service business

Zoom has announced an expansion into customer service with a new expansion on its Zoom Video Engagement Center offering. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zoom Contact Center is still built around video conferencing calls, letting companies quickly interact with customers but it's not limited to it. 

The goal is to streamline everything that goes into customer service into one tool, easily accessible and usable by operators and mangers alike, with customers able to integrate Contact Center directly into their current workflows. 

Zoom Contact Center

At launch, Contact Center will have over 100 features for every involved, including agents, supervisors, and administrators. Zoom is also planning a bevvy of future updates, including deeper support for CRM tools. 

Zoom Contact Center is launching in the US and Canada first with unspecified international markets to follow later in 2022. 

“Previously, contact center infrastructure was complex to deploy, expensive to operate, and time-intensive to upgrade. Zoom Contact Center was carefully designed to meet the needs of the modern agent and end customer, both of which expect a personalized, digital, and effective contact center experience,” said Zoom's Oded Gal.

Zoom was a clear winner from the pandemic, which forced workforces across the globe into working from home. 

The company's stock started 2020 at around $ 73 before reaching a record high of $ 559 on October 12. Now, Zoom trades at around $ 126, far below its record high, as people return to offices. 

Zoom has also been under intense pressure from Microsoft, which moved quickly to expand Teams to companies across the globe, many (or maybe all) of which have a pre-existing relationship with Microsoft. 

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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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This new Zoom feature could save you from an embarrassing blunder

Zoom has unveiled a series of new features for its video conferencing software, one of which could prevent users from making a serious workplace faux pas.

As explained in a blog post, Zoom administrators can now configure virtual backgrounds to reset to a chosen default after each meeting.

Strangely, the official rationale is that the feature will help avoid situations whereby sensitive data is exposed in a virtual background, which feels like a fringe scenario. More beneficial will be the peace of mind afforded to people who regularly use the virtual background feature for non-work purposes.

New Zoom features

Since the transition to remote working, the number of Zoom customers has expanded dramatically and the software is now used for all manner of purposes, both professional and personal.

Zoom became the go-to platform for quizzes, yoga classes,  virtual parties and more during Covid lockdowns. And while many people are returning to in-person events as societies open up, online collaboration services like Zoom still play a larger role in the private sphere than they ever did before.

With this in mind, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which someone forgets to remove an inappropriate background before the end of a personal video call, leading to an embarrassing situation on a Monday morning. But with the latest Zoom update, this need no longer be a concern.

The option to automatically reset virtual backgrounds is just one of a number of changes bundled with the latest Zoom update.

The company has also rolled out a feature that allows meeting hosts to add a video to the virtual waiting room, which will play while participants wait to be allowed into the call, and admins can also now enable and disable the watermark feature in the middle of a meeting.

Lastly, Zoom has doubled down on its feature set for international collaboration. The language used in the Zoom client will now be dictated by the language applied in the user’s browser, and meeting hosts can now enable the language interpretation feature by default when scheduling a meeting.

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Exclusive: We’re all far more dependent on Teams and Zoom than we want to believe

The widespread dependence on collaboration and video conferencing services brought about by the pandemic has introduced significant business risk, new research suggests.

According to data collected by software firm StarLeaf, provided exclusively to TechRadar Pro, almost all (97%) businesses say that tools such as Zoom, Webex and Teams are now essential to their operations.

More than half (57%) of the 2,000 UK-based respondents claim their company would not be able to operate for more than an hour without access to their communications tools, while 27% admitted they would struggle to function for even 30 minutes.

What back-up plan?

With a large proportion of workers still confined to their home offices by the pandemic, it is obviously uncontroversial to predict a continued dependence on cloud-based collaboration software. However, what comes as a surprise is the lack of contingency planning among organizations, most of which are now utterly reliant on these kinds of services for business continuity.

Despite this “extreme dependency”, only 32% of companies have established a back-up plan that insures against service outages, which have been relatively common in recent weeks. Among this group, a quarter said their contingency plan would involve turning to consumer apps like WhatsApp, which are ill-suited to professional use cases.

StarLeaf says the consequences of downtime would be particularly acute in sectors such as customer service and sales, with staff unable to carry out their jobs without access to communications tools. 

Respondents registered serious concerns about the consequences of a pause in service caused by an outage. Half of those surveyed suspect an incident of this kind would have a severe impact on the reputation of their company, with knock-on effects on the bottom line.

“The way of doing business now takes place predominantly using communications platforms. And while this has many benefits, such as the ability to work from anywhere and hire staff from across the world, this is also leaving companies vulnerable to major disruption. The sheer pace of digital transformation over the last two years is the reason for this liability oversight,” said Mark Richer, StarLeaf CEO.

“As we look ahead to 2022, businesses need to ensure they have a failover system so they can continue to operate, no matter what happens to their comms platform.”

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LinkedIn is taking on Zoom and Microsoft Teams with a new audio and video events platform

In order to get users to spend more time on its professional social network, LinkedIn is preparing to launch a new virtual events platform for both audio and video.

As reported by TechCrunch, the company's new events platform will allow creators and organizations to list, host and market interactive virtual events.

LinkedIn actually began looking into events before the pandemic began with the launch of its Events hub back in 2019. However, as more people started working from home, the company added online polls and video events to provide remote workers with access to events. 

Now though with its new virtual events platform, LinkedIn will start out with an audio-only product similar to Clubhouse that will launch in beta this month followed by a video version that will be available in the spring.

Audio and video events

When LinkedIn's new events platform launches in beta later this month, organizers won't have to rely on other third-party software as it will include all of the tools needed to run interactive content from end-to-end.

Hosts will be able to record and run their events straight from LinkedIn as the new platform will include tools for online attendees and hosts to have live conversations  and moderate discussions. However, attendees will also be able to communicate with one another both during and after an event has ended. Promoting these events will be a cinch as well as organizers can do so on LinkedIn.

The platform will start off by targeting individual creators who already rely on the professional social network to connect with a wider audience and cover topics such as career development and recruitment.

Product manager at LinkedIn, Jake Poses provided further details on the company's philosophy when it comes to its new virtual event platform for audio and video in an interview with TechCrunch, saying:

“Our philosophy is to put the organizers in control. We want to make it easier to host virtual round tables, fireside chats, and more. Some may want the event to be more formal, or less formal. Some might want to communicate with their audience, to open up to the floor. We’re giving professionals interactivity and support.”

We'll likely hear more from LinkedIn once the audio-only portion of its new virtual events platform begins rolling out in beta later this month.

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Via TechCrunch

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