Features and Accessibility of the Top Three Remote Meeting Platforms: Zoom, Teams, and Meet

Features and Accessibility of the Top Three Remote Meeting Platforms: Zoom, Teams, and Meet

Some of my readers have been asking about differences between Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. I started researching the differences between the big three meeting platforms, and the below info has been culled from various online resources.

At the end of this article, I’ll provide a handy table with keyboard commands for each platform. So, grab a drink with me, or maybe a couple, since this is a fairly long article. Let’s get started!

A Brief Intro to Zoom, Teams, and Meet

Three of the most popular platforms being used right now are Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, all of which allow you to stay in touch with your colleagues and link up with friends and family for weekly digital get-togethers. Yet, while they all share the common capability of messaging and video calls, each come with their own features that might make one a better option for your specific needs than the other.

Read on for an overview and comparison of what Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams have to offer.

Zoom

Zoom has quickly become a go-to for many users looking for a straightforward way to catch up with colleagues, friends and relatives during the lockdown. The service offers HD video and audio calls alongside chat functionality, all of which can be accessed from desktop PC, Android and Apple devices. Zoom also, famously, has customizable virtual backgrounds, which are equally good at adding some character to your calls as they are adding a layer of privacy – particularly if you’re working out of a bedroom that you’d rather keep from prying eyes.

Two flavors of Zoom are available. The basic Free version of the app can host up to 100 participants and unlimited one-on-one meetings, with video calls capped at 40 minutes. Note that Zoom may sometimes remove this 40-minute requirement for special circumstances. Meanwhile, the Pro version costs $14.99/ £11.99 a month and offers all the capabilities of the free app, while also including improved admin controls that allows hosts to record and encrypt meetings (up to 1GB), customize Meeting IDs and use scheduling and analytics tools.

The Pro version also bumps up the maximum meeting duration to 24 hours – though God forbid you should ever need that long.

Above that are the Business versions of Zoom, which offer support for between 300 and 1,000 participants and a bunch of extras such as dedicated phone support, single sign-on tools, as well as an admin dashboard, custom emails and even vanity URLs. You also get access to all the Pro features of Zoom by default.

All versions of Zoom offer integration with popular email and calendar applications like Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, Gmail and iCal, making it easy to schedule and join meetings – the latter of which you do by simply following a link.

While Zoom security has been criticized in the past, the company has gone to lengths to address this more recently. Zoom 5.0X now offers fully encrypted meetings and better tools for hosts to control who does or does not have access to the meeting. This includes the Waiting Room feature and a new Report User button within the security controls designed to put an end to the irksome trend of “ZoomBombing”.

As a result, now a number of safeguards are deployed to free Basic Zoom users by default, including password requirements for all meetings as well as Waiting Rooms for calls using personal meeting IDs. At the same time, only the meeting Host will have screen sharing privileges turned on by default

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams offers something of a more robust feature set than Zoom, being primarily aimed at business customers as opposed to casual users. Key to Teams’ appeal is its integration with Office 365 and staple Microsoft productivity tools like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. In addition to holding chats and video calls, users can share and collaborate on Office documents in real time, with shared files synched with OneDrive and SharePoint to keep copies securely in the cloud. These tools can be accessed in one place alongside Teams’ core video and chat functionalities, making it a comprehensive, all-in-one collaboration suite for office teams.

Much like Zoom, Microsoft Teams is available in both free and paid-for versions on Android, iOS and Windows devices. For those without an Office 365 subscription, Microsoft has a free version of Teams that can be downloaded as a standalone service. Users can sign up for this using their email address.

The Free edition of Teams offers unlimited chat messages and search, video and audio calls, file and screen sharing, plus the ability to collaborate on Office documents.

Microsoft Teams offers a full-fledged productivity suite for users of Office 365

Office 365 subscriptions start at $8.00/ £3.80 per month, offering additional support for video conferencing with up to 250 participants and live events with up to 10,000 people. Those with an Office subscription get access to additional features like meeting scheduling and reporting capabilities, as well as more robust security features including multi-factor authentication.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft is offering businesses a free, six-month free trial of Office 365 E1, which includes access to Teams. While Zoom has claimed a chunk of its potential user base since the outbreak began, Microsoft has gone to lengths to present itself as a more secure offering to that of its rivals.

Not to be outdone by Zoom, Microsoft has also recently added virtual backgrounds to Teams to let you hide your messy home office with something a tad more professional-looking. Also, group text chats in Microsoft Teams have been increased from 100 participants to 250.

Google Meet

Google Meet is the web and search monolith’s own answer to remote workplace get-togethers. Not wanting to lose footing against Zoom and Microsoft, the company  recently made its video chat app available for free.

Until recently, Google Meet has only been available to enterprise users of Google’s G Suite platform. Now, however, availability is being expanded to anybody with a Google Account, who can sign into the service from their web browser using their Gmail address.

Google Meet allows users to host video meetings with up to 100 participants at once, offering screen sharing and recording capabilities, scheduling, and real-time captioning. For Free users, video meetings are capped at 60 minutes.

Google Meet recently went free to level the playing field between it and its rivals

Google has added a handful of new features to Meet as it looks to challenge rivals Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This includes a Zoom-like expanded tile view that lets 16 people be displayed on-screen at once, as well as “intelligent” background noise filtering that aims to remove disruptions and noisy nuisances from calls.

In addition to being accessible via the web, apps are also available for Google Meet on both Android and iOS devices. Meet is integrated with G Suite, allowing users to join meetings directly from Google’s Calendar app or via email invite. G Suite’s Enterprise edition also creates a dial-in phone number for each meeting. Users with a G Suite application can benefit from integration with Google apps like Docs, Drive, Sheets and Notes.

On the security front, Google touts its video chat offer as being secure by default, with Meet featuring host controls allowing users to admit, deny, and mute participants, encrypted meetings, and complex meeting IDs that are resilient to brute-force hacking attempts.

Summary of Features for all Three Meeting Platforms

I realize the above is a lot of data, so below are handy lists of features for each conferencing solution.

 

Zoom Features

  1. HD video and audio

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Audio / video

Zoom’s video-conferencing app can stream high-quality HD video and audio, giving participants great picture quality. If you are struggling to get a stable connection, you can lower the picture quality, but most high-speed internet connections will be able to stream high-quality video.

  1. Participant camera feed

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Audio / video

Zoom is primarily a video-conferencing app. While you do not have to share your video feed, participants can share their video. Zoom will require permission to use your computer or device camera, and will then use the camera to display video for other participants on the call.

  1. Audio-only conferencing

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Audio

While Zoom is primarily featured as a video-conferencing tool, with many video-related features and enhancements, it can be used for audio-only conferencing as well. Simply turn video off when joining a meeting, and use the app as you would, without sharing video. You can also use your phone and participate in Zoom meetings. See more about this under Call In.

  1. Cross-platform messaging

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Communication

Zoom video-conferencing can be done using the desktop client, the mobile app, and the browser client. All versions support cross-platform communication, from video, to audio, to instant messaging. App versions will automatically sync so you can access your meetings no matter how you sign in to Zoom.

  1. Password protection

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Security

The Zoom application (desktop, mobile, and browser) is password protected. You can sign in via SSO, Google, or Facebook, but you will need to sign in via an account to access Zoom. Beyond this, Personal Meeting Rooms are all password protected. Individual meetings can have passwords required, adding another level of security to your meetings.

As of the May 2020 update, in an effort to increase security, individual Zoom meetings are now all password-protected and require a password to enter.

  1. End-to-end encryption

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Security

Communications use a 256-bit TLS encryption; shared content uses an AES-256 encryption. As part of their security upgrades in May of 2020, Zoom is working to provide end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as an option that can be enabled and disabled. Some communication systems will function better with this encryption disabled, but all Zoom meetings and services will have end-to-end encryption available.

  1. Zoom scheduling

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Scheduling

Zoom comes with built-in scheduling within the app, allowing you to schedule meetings and send out invitations from Zoom. You can then access, edit, and otherwise manage scheduled meetings within any version of the client or app. You can set permissions to let other people schedule meetings on your behalf as well, which is ideally suited for organizations.

  1. Calendar scheduling

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Scheduling

On top of Zoom’s in-app scheduling, you can pair calendar applications with Zoom and schedule Zoom meetings. By default, you can use Google Calendar and Outlook, which many people use for both personal and business applications. You can add a meeting to your calendar when scheduling the meeting, making it extremely easy and convenient to do.

  1. Waiting Rooms

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Access / Security

With the Waiting Room feature enabled on your meeting, participants that attempt to join your meeting will be funneled into a waiting room. The host can then admit participants (one at a time or all together) once they are ready, or once they have screened the attendees. You can also set the waiting room up to admit attendees automatically depending on their domain, so that people from your organization – for example – can bypass the waiting room.

  1. Personal meeting room

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Privacy

With a Basic (free) plan, users gain access to a Personal Meeting Room – a virtual meeting room with a permanent meeting ID that is reserved for your use. Each Personal Meeting Room is assigned a unique Personal Meeting ID; this Personal Meeting ID and the personal link to the meeting can be used to access the meeting room.

The Personal Meeting Room is ideally suited for meetings with people you trust, or whom you have meetings with frequently or sporadically. This makes it easy for people to join your meeting and join a call with you, where they know to find you. It saves participants the hassle of having to find the meeting invite to join a call with you. This is great for frequent, short calls and other users you trust won’t share your meeting access information.

  1. Custom Personal Meeting ID

Cost: Paid [Pro or higher]

Feature type: Privacy

With a Pro plan or higher, you can customize your Personal Meeting ID. This is great for setting a memorable meeting ID that you will be able to remember when trying to share it with attendees. You’ll also be able to change it every once in a while, to add a level of security, so people you’ve given the meeting ID and password will no longer be able to access the meeting room.

  1. Meeting recordings

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Call history

Meetings can be recorded locally to your computer. To share these files with others, you can upload files to a file storage service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or any alternative. The host has the ability to record meetings and can restrict or extend these permissions to participants of the meeting and other Zoom users.

Local recordings are not supported on Android and iOS. To access recordings and record via a mobile device, you will need to have a paid account with cloud recording capabilities.

  1. Assign permission settings

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Software management

As the host, you can change in-meeting permissions as well, enabling or disabling participants from sharing their screen, using chat, renaming themselves, and unmuting themselves. Permissions can also be changed for each user role under Role Privilege Settings. You can change which controls each user role has access to and the privileges they have in their role.

  1. Meeting reminders on mobile

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Scheduling

With the mobile app installed on your mobile device, you will be able to turn on meeting reminders. These notifications will alert you when a meeting is close to starting. How long before the meeting the reminder occurs can be changed to customize your meeting notifications.

  1. Zoom driving features for mobile devices

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Safety / Access

Zoom is compatible with Apple CarPlay and features a Safe Driving Mode to make using Zoom both convenient and safe while you’re on the road. Start, join, and participate in calls while in a car using your mobile device with Safe Driving Mode. Zoom meetings can also easily be joined using Apple CarPlay, allowing you to conveniently use your iPhone while in transit.

  1. Touch Up My Appearance

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Profile personalization

The Touch Up My Appearance feature can be used to automatically retouch your video display with a soft focus. This helps smooth out the skin tone of your face and provides a more polished look while on video. Simply enable this setting and it will automatically work when the meeting runs.

  1. Dark and light sidebar themes

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Software personalization

You can customize the appearance of the Zoom app on your device, choosing between a light and dark sidebar. This gives you the aesthetic you want for the app, which makes it more comfortable for you to use.

  1. Virtual backgrounds

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Profile personalization

The Virtual Background feature lets meeting participants choose an image or video to use as their video background. You can use this to block out a cluttered, unorganized, and otherwise unprofessional background or make a creative, interesting, or funny background that sparks conversation.

This feature works best when the person sharing their video uses a green screen, but the app will attempt to do this for you automatically. You should also crop the image or video you use to be the same aspect ratio as your camera, so it looks best.

  1. Remote control

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Access

The host and other participants can remotely control another participant’s Zoom meeting. This gives them remote control of the participant’s device, so they can make changes and access the Zoom client. This is ideal for administrative matters as well as collaborating more effectively.

  1. Instant messaging

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Communication

Zoom Chat lets you use their instant messaging within the app (desktop, mobile, and browser versions) and in-meetings. Chat with other Zoom users and meeting participants. This can be used effectively during meetings for participants to communicate without interrupting the presenter. Zoom Chat can also be used for instant messaging outside of calls. Teams can use this for efficient communication that can easily be logged. This is a great way to share instructions with other team members, as they can refer back to your request.

  1. File sharing

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Access

In-meeting file transfer lets you send files to other meeting participants during the meeting using the meeting chat. Easily share files during the meeting using this feature, making accessing files for collaboration extremely convenient. You can also send files via chat directly to a single user or a group

This needs to be enabled at the account level, and controls can also be put in place that restrict the types of files that can be shared.

  1. Search chat

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Call history

Zoom Chat’s search feature lets you easily find parts of a conversation or files that have been shared. This can really help with navigating chat to find instructions you’ve been given, files that have been shared with you, and other specifics you need to find quickly. It’s great for referencing something quickly on a call and finding something after you’ve finished your conversation.

  1. Start meeting directly from chat

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Audio / video

If you’re already talking to someone via the Zoom chat, and decide you need to have an actual call, you can start a meeting directly from the chat. Whether it’s an individual person or a group, you can initiate a call with just a click. This is great for when you can’t fully answer or communicate your thoughts on chat and need to take it to a meeting.

  1. Contact channels (chat groups)

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Communication

The Channels feature within Zoom lets you create groups of contacts that can be public or private. It can be used to quickly join an instant meeting with those invitees. It can also be used through Zoom Chat to easily, quickly, and conveniently chat with a group you communicate with regularly. Send group chats, files, images, and screen captures to the entire channel.

Public channels can have a maximum of 10,000 members. On a free account, a private channel can have a maximum of 500 members. With a paid account, a private channel can have a maximum of 5,000 members.

  1. Call in

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Access

Participants can call in to join a Zoom meeting using teleconferencing or audio conferencing (with a regular phone). The call in feature lets participants call in using their phone line, making it easy for those on the road or somewhere without internet access. Some countries have available toll free numbers. Check with your plan to see available toll-free numbers for call in.

This is great for situations where you don’t have a microphone or speaker available on your computer, you do not have access to data using your smartphone, or you cannot connect to a network for video and VoIP.

  1. Toll-free dial in

Cost: Paid [Add-on]

Feature type: Access

Add an audio conferencing plan to your Zoom plan to get access to toll-free numbers, fee-based toll numbers, call-out numbers, and dedicated dial-in numbers. This makes it easy to have participants call in on the go, when they may not have access to their computer or a stable internet connection. Essentially, participants can join a meeting using a telephone, at no cost other than what the add-on is for the plan.

  1. Call out

Cost: Paid [Pro or higher]

Feature type: Access

While in a meeting, Zoom can call out to either yourself or other participants. Meetings can even be set up to automatically call out to a number when the meeting starts. This is a great feature to use for participants that frequently use their phone to join in on calls or who know they will be out of the office when they need to hop on the call. You can use this to call out to international phone numbers as well.

  1. Voicemail

Cost: Paid [Add-on: Zoom Phone]

Feature type: Audio

With Zoom Phone, users can leave voicemail messages up to 5 minutes long. You can then play, delete, and save messages that have been left by callers. Messages can be saved for 12 months. Voicemails will automatically sync between desktop and mobile versions, so you can access voicemails however is most convenient.

Users within the same organization can also share their voicemail inbox with other users. This can be great for collaborating within teams and sharing information most efficiently, centralizing and standardizing access.

  1. Single sign-on

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Access

Single-sign on allows participants to login to Zoom using company credentials. This will connect them via the organization account. Single-sign on makes it easy and uniform for all members of your organization to sign into meetings.

In this way, Zoom acts as a service provider and you do not need to register as a Zoom user to sign in. Zoom receives a SAML response from the Identity Provider and ensures that the user exists. If the user does not exist, Zoom creates a user account for that user automatically.

  1. Touch Controls

Cost: Paid [Add-on: Zoom Rooms]

Feature type: Access

Zoom Rooms come with software that has Touch Controls for meetings on iPad, Android, or Windows tablet devices. These can be set up with your Zoom Room system, and will allow you to easily and conveniently manage your meeting rooms using the touch controls on these devices. Mute/unmute participants, lock the meeting, invite participants, and otherwise manage your on-location Zoom Rooms conveniently using the Touch Control software.

  1. Cloud recordings

Cost: Paid [Pro or higher]

Feature type: Call history

With a paid plan, cloud recordings are automatically enabled, saving you local storage space and allowing for centralized, convenient access. Members on your account can then access from one place with ease. Cloud recordings can be streamed directly or downloaded to a local device. The only way to record meetings using iOS or Android is using the cloud recording feature.

Cloud recording storage capacity is dependent on the plan you have:

  • Pro: 1GB / Pro User
  • Business: 1 GB / Pro User
  • Education: 0.5 GB / Pro User
  • Zoom Rooms: 1 GB / Zoom Room
  1. Cloud transcript recording

Cost: Paid [Business or higher]

Feature type: Call history

The Audio transcript option can be used to automatically transcribe the audio from meetings or webinars recorded to the cloud. Once the transcript is processed, it will appear as a separate .vtt text file within your list of recorded meetings. This feature also allows you to display the transcript within the video, much like closed captioning. Transcripts can be reviewed and edited for grammar and punctuation, and will have timestamps so you can easily and quickly navigate the original recording and the transcript.

  1. SIP-connected audio for internal calling

Cost: Paid [Add-on: Enhanced Audio plan]

Feature type: Audio

For larger organizations with an on-premise teleconferencing system, Zoom can set up a SIP trunk that provides you a private connection between your network and the Zoom cloud. Using this, you can avoid using a regular phone line (Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN), which saves you costs and gives you a more secure and reliable connection.

This can be used to facilitate internal calls, as well as call-ins and call-outs for meetings. Use both video-enabled and audio-only conferencing where the system has been set up.

  1. Enable polling

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Communication

The polling feature is available during meetings, and lets participants vote on a poll created by the host. Create a single choice or multiple choice question to poll participants on the meeting. You can even download a polling report after the meeting is done. Anonymous polls can be conducted to keep poll participants’ results anonymous.

  1. Annotation and co-annotation

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Call history

The host – and participants – can annotate a shared screen and a whiteboard. The ability to annotate can be granted at the account, group, and user levels, so you can control access. Simply click Annotate and the annotations options will come up, allowing you to annotate the shared screen or whiteboard. This is ideal for fast, efficient collaboration on a video-conference call.

  1. Breakout Rooms

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Collaboration

Breakout rooms can be used during a meeting to create smaller rooms for the meeting participants to group off into. Essentially, this lets you split your Zoom meeting in up to 50 separate meeting sessions. The host can choose which participants go into which breakout room, and can access any of the breakout rooms. This feature is great for training, education, and smaller work sessions.

Breakout rooms can only be managed and run by the account owner, or someone with admin privileges.

  1. Screen sharing

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Presentation / collaboration

The screen-sharing feature lets the host and – with permission – participants share their screen with other meeting participants on the call. You can choose to share your entire desktop or phone screen, a specific app, a portion of your screen, a Whiteboard, and more. Participant screen sharing can be restricted by the host.

Screen-sharing is a useful tool for collaboration among and between teams, helping you save time and communicate more effectively. Whether it’s for business or personal use, screen-sharing is one of the most commonly used and convenient features.

  1. Whiteboarding

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Collaboration

The Whiteboard feature is one of the many Zoom advanced features, letting you share a whiteboard that can be used by the host and – with permission – participants to annotate. This is an ideal tool for brainstorming as a group and collaborating on ideas together. Annotation tools let the host and participants use the whiteboard together. You can also share multiple whiteboards at once when sharing multiple screens.

  1. Multi-share

Cost: Free [Basic]

Feature type: Presentation / collaboration

Participants can share their screens simultaneously during a meeting, using the share screen function for multiple screens. Hosts will need to allow this for participants in the meeting, which helps them control and manage who is able to do this. To get the most from this feature, you will want to enable dual monitor options in the client settings.

  1. Extra cloud recording storage

Cost: Paid [Add-on]

Feature type: Call history

Additional cloud recording storage can be purchased for your meeting recordings. This is ideal for larger teams that need to keep a large collection of meeting recordings for training, archives, and more.

Additional storage can be purchased for the rates below:

  • 100 GB: $40 per month / $1.5 per additional 1 GB
  • 500 GB: $100 per month / $0.5 per additional 1 GB
  • 3 TB: $500 per month / $0.1 per additional 1 GB

 

Microsoft Teams Features

1 – External Federation with Slack or Webex Teams

Mio has created universal channels for Microsoft Teams to chat with Slack or Webex Teams…

Stay in Teams and send messages to your contractors, suppliers, or clients who use Slack or Webex.

They stay in their platform while Mio translates the messages across platform.

GIFs, files, emojis, channels, @ mentions, undefined (), and message edits/deletes are all supported.

2 – Tabs

Tabs in Microsoft Teams allow businesses to display rich and interactive web content to their teams. There are two kinds of tabs on Teams:

  • Static tabs: These support individual users. For instance, you might have a tab that allows employees to make personal notes as they work.
  • Configurable tabs: These are part of your Teams channel. They offer ongoing information and guidance to teams.

3 – Microsoft Immersive Reader

The immersive reader speaks the text on a channel aloud at varying speeds. If you’re struggling to focus on a piece of text, or you need to grab information while your eyes are focused elsewhere, the Immersive Reader is useful functionality.

Click on the 3 dots on any message and select the reader from your drop-down menu.

4 – Activity filtering with @ mentions

This allows you to separate your personal messages and to-do lists from other less relevant conversations.

The activity filter ensures that you stay up to date with the right information without facing the threat of information overwhelm.

5 – Bookmark specific content

Microsoft Teams comes with the option to bookmark specific pieces of content, whether it’s a message or an attachment. You can classify the content is important to you and spend less time searching for crucial data.

Teams Search and Filter is useful for finding content too.

6 – Get work done fast with slash commands

You can use a slash command to set your status to “online” or “away”. Alternatively, you can make sure you’re not missing out on anything important with /WhatsNew. This takes you straight to the Release Notes tab on the T-bot channel, so you can check out new features.

Some of the best slash commands include:

  • /Files – Shows the most recent files shared with you on Teams.
  • /GoTo – Lets you jump straight to a channel
  • /Call – Initiates a call with someone else on Teams
  • /Help – Delivers assistance via T-bot
  • /Saved – Takes you to your saved messages

Type / into Teams to see other options.

7 – Access a personalized view of apps and contacts

You can access the “Personal App Space” to see all the items and tasks assigned to you from apps like Planner, or Jira Cloud.

The Personal Apps space also includes a “Who” tab, which allows you to search for people in your contacts by topic or name. Click on the “…” in your left-hand navigation menu to see the personal apps space.

You can also change your theme. Click on the general section of the app settings to implement “dark mode” for your mobile devices.

8 – Hide and show Teams to stay organized

You can choose which channels and teams you want to see and hide the rest from your UI. Although you’ll still get notifications when someone @Mentions you, your teams list won’t be nearly as cluttered. Click on the “…” next to a team or channel name in your list, then click on More Options. Select Hide to make the team or channel invisible or scroll to the bottom of your page to find Hidden teams that you want to see again.

9 – Meeting whiteboards

Any meeting in Microsoft Teams can now access a whiteboard.

Participants can sketch together and share ideas. Whiteboard sketching comes with different pen colors and graph options for visual collaboration.

You can collaborate with meeting participants on Whiteboard via Microsoft Teams. There’s also the option to use the Whiteboard app.

In both apps, you can draw, erase, and share content in real-time. The whiteboard tab is available before or after a meeting.

People without pen or touchscreen access can contribute with typed text.

10 – Virtual backgrounds

People using video conferencing on Microsoft Teams can change their backgrounds to either blur the background or replace it completely.

If you’ve got a messy environment behind you, blur it before or during a meeting.

Select Background effects in your audio and video settings. Choose Blur to blur your background. Everything behind you will meld together.

You can also replace your background.

Choose one of the virtual background images available from Microsoft, upload your own, or download a premium pack.

Your background will stay the same in all calls until you change it. To change a background in a meeting, click … then Show background effects.

11 – Microsoft Teams connectors

Connectors keep groups ahead of the curve by delivering updates from the services that you typically use.

Rather than asking your teams to find information from Twitter, Trello, Wunderlist, and so on, you can connect those streams straight to their channels.

Any member of a Microsoft Teams channel can connect their entire group to some of the most popular cloud services. When Connectors are set up, all members of a chain will be notified when new messages appear.

12 – Combine your company Wikis

If you already use Wikis within Teams, this feature is excellent for supporting better collaboration.

Click on the “…” left-hand menu and select the Wiki option. You’ll be taken to the Wiki home page on your Personal tab, where you can take notes and check information. You can also click the All tab for a summary of every Wiki you’re involved with.

You can also add notes to your Personal Wiki wherever you are. Just type /Wiki into the Teams text box and type up your note.

  1. SharePoint team Sites

If you have SharePoint team sites that you want to bring into Microsoft Teams, you can. Users can:

  • Add SharePoint pages and lists into Teams channels
  • Use the SharePoint news connector to stream news directly into channels
  • Add full SharePoint sites in Teams via the website tab
  • Include SharePoint document libraries as tabs in Teams

14 – Make content private with information barriers

Information barriers will give you more control over your knowledge sharing strategy.

Information barriers allow business leaders to define which individuals can collaborate in Microsoft Teams. The Information barriers policies keep information isolated when you’re dealing with sensitive topics and conversations.

15 – Inline message translation

Inline message translation allows people to chat in their native tongue and translate messages into English for your other users.

It’s an easy way to keep everyone on the same page – no matter their native tongue.

16 – Cloud recording with automatic transcripts

This allows you to record your meetings automatically and store it in the cloud.

Not only can you go back and listen to the conversations you had with your team, but the transcriptions are automated too. This makes it easier to find specific information with just a keyword or phrase.

17 – Guest access

Microsoft provides secure guest access () so that people in a business can connect with individuals outside of their organization.

Anyone with a consumer or business email account can join a chat. There’s also the option to view files and participate in meetings.

Guest access in Microsoft Teams is turned off by default.

18 – Use proximity sensing to join a meeting

Proximity-based pairing means that your Teams app will automatically detect Microsoft Teams room systems within Bluetooth range of your devices. This means that you can find conference spaces quickly for spontaneous collaboration.

After you launch a Teams meeting, just browse through the available nearby room systems to find a space with the appropriate video and audio tech for your needs. You can also start a session in content-only mode, which silences your smartphone microphone and blocks your camera.

19 – Request for someone new to join your team

If you’re running a private channel on Microsoft Teams, and you need to add a contractor or freelancer to that group, then you can now make a request on their behalf.

Just right-click on a channel name in Microsoft Teams, and click on Add Member. Here, you can search for new people you want to include in your channel, either by typing in their email address, or their name. The owner of the channel will then get a notification letting them know that they have a new request.

Microsoft Teams will also automatically send your new user an alert when they’re successfully given access to the Team.

20 – Microsoft Teams Live Events

Teams users can broadcast live events to large audiences for events, meetings, and webinars to up to 1,000 users.

For one-to-many announcements, live events is a convenient feature and a better experience to asking everyone to join a meeting.

Organizers can set attendee permissions and choose co-presenters. You’ll also have the option to share screens and windows in these broadcasts.

Presenters can record their events and share them through Microsoft Stream or Teams.

Live Events is available for anyone with a Microsoft 365 Enterprise E1, E3 or E5 license. Office Education users with an A3 or A5 license can also use Live Events.

Your events can either be public or private.

21 – Renaming channels and changing emoji policy

IT Managers have the option to allow emoji usage in Microsoft Teams. You can also support Emojis all throughout Microsoft 365 productivity tools.

Emojis can make file labels and channel names more appealing. But there’s a bug in the SharePoint service.

Emojis will work to define channels in Teams, but not in SharePoint.

Renaming a channel won’t change the folder name in SharePoint either. It’s best to stay away from emojis to avoid SharePoint confusion.

22 – Hard Audio Mute and student control

Faculty need a way to reduce distractions in a learning environment.

Hard Audio Mute from Microsoft Teams stops students from unmuting themselves. Available for both education and enterprise packages, hard audio mute improves collaboration.

You can mute all participants from the participant pane.

When a student raises a hand to answer a question, admins have the option to remove the hard mute setting.

Admins also have the option to control when students can join a meeting.

This keeps student-to-student and classroom interactions in a secure, designated time. Student lobbies give educators controls over when students join a meeting

23 – Microsoft App Studio

This allows businesses and developers to design their own tools with Teams language. This makes it easy to augment your workflows with new capabilities and processes.

24 – Microsoft Teams bots

If you want to take advantage of artificial intelligence and easy automation features, try the (). bots.

  • Polly: a simple bot that polls your team members and helps to keep track of employee engagement
  • Whobot: a bot that can answer questions about your colleagues like who knows about the current incentives for your sales team if you need help serving a customer
  • Grow Bot: a feature that encourages collaboration by allowing team members to exchange kudos
  • Stats bot: an analytics bot that delivers scheduled reports via sources like Google Analytics

25 – PSTN integration

You can now integrate your Microsoft Teams experience with PSTN calling.

There are multiple ways to do this, including direct routing and Microsoft Calling Plans.

The Calling Plans available from Microsoft allow you to integrate with PSTN through a cloud-based subscription. The benefit of this is that you don’t need any additional hardware.

On the other hand, if you want to stick with your existing PTSN trunk, you can try Direct Routing.

This method allows businesses to connect their PSTN to the Microsoft Teams Cloud PBX. You can use Direct Routing with any telephony provider. However, you will need a Session Border Controller.

26 – Adapt Microsoft Teams to suit your industry

You can customize Microsoft Teams to suit your industry, with developer templates specifically designed for your vertical. For instance, there are templates for:

  • Government agencies
  • Retail companies
  • Education groups
  • Healthcare (with HIPAA compliance)
  • First-line workers (Shifts)

27 – Analytics and BI in Microsoft Teams

Usage reports gathered by Microsoft Teams give you an insight into adoption rates and user feedback. This is particularly useful if you’re implementing a new Microsoft Teams strategy and you want to plan a step-by-step rollout.

Teams reports are available in the Microsoft admin center. They offer overviews of how your teams use Teams, including information about the features they access most.

To view your reports, you’ll need to be a service admin in Teams. You can also be a Skype for Business admin or Office 365 global admin. Go to the Teams admin center, click on Analytics and Reports, and choose the report you need.

28 – Meeting recording for compliance

Recording Microsoft Teams meetings is a great way to make sure that you’re capturing crucial information for compliance purposes.

Recordings capture video, audio and screen sharing activities at the same time. The meetings you record can also be saved to Stream, which means you can manage and download the content later.

Recording meetings is helpful if you want to create department or company-wide announcements.

With your recordings, you can reveal information about news items, or create training videos for employees. Click on the “…” in your channel and choose Start Recording.

29 – Manage first-line workers

You can address shift issues and arrange your work schedule within Teams channels.

Managers can easily plan where they need more support from specific staff members. There’s also the option for employees to makeshift change requests.

The Shifts feature is switched on by default for most companies. Just click on the “…” option and select Shifts to get started. To access Shifts on mobile, you’ll need to expand your modular tray. You can pin Shifts to your nav bar for easy access.

 

Google Meet Features

  1. Meet security

Meet’s security controls are turned on by default, so in most cases you don’t need to take extra steps to ensure the right protections are in place.

  1. Captions

We’ve added more language options for captions. Meet users in Asia Pacific or EMEA regions on a desktop can now use captions in:

  • French
  • German
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish (Mexico)
  • Spanish (Spain)
  1. Updates to attendance tracking

We’ve made updates to attendance tracking:

  • More Workspace users have access to attendance tracking.
  • You can now receive reports for live streams.
  • Eligible Workspace admins can turn attendance tracking and live stream reporting on or off for their domain.
  • Attendance tracking and live stream reporting can be turned on or off from Google Calendar or during a Meet video call.
  1. Updates to breakout rooms in Google Meet
  • Breakout rooms are available to more Workspace users.
  • Dial-in users can use breakout rooms.
  • Participants can ask for help while in a breakout room.
  • You can add a timer to breakout rooms.
  1. Hand Raising with Google Meet

You can virtually raise your hand in a Google Meet video call to let the moderator know you want to speak.

  1. Accept knocks in bulk in Google Meet

You can now accept all pending knocks in bulk in Google Meet. To help limit interruptions during the video call, admit all participants at once.

  1. Change your Background in Google Meet

You can change your background while using Google Meet from a computer. Blur your background is now available on mobile devices.

  1. Try breakout rooms in Google Meet

Moderators can use breakout rooms to divide participants into smaller groups in Google Meet.

  1. Dial-in from more countries with Google Meet

We added dial-in phone numbers for 8 additional countries to use in Google Meet.

  1. Ask questions or conduct polls on Google Meet

Increase engagement with Q&A and polls in Google Meet.

  • Ask questions in Google Meet.
  • Conduct polls in Google Meet.
  1. Filter out noise during Google Meet meetings on mobile

Filter out noise when you use Google Meet on your mobile device.

  1. Get attendance reports for education users on Google Meet

G Suite Enterprise for Education users can get Google Meet Attendance reports.

  1. Use a whiteboard in Google Meet

Host collaborative sessions with a new digital whiteboard in Google Meet.

  1. Updates to tiled view

View yourself and up to 49 people in Google Meet.

  1. Blur your background in Google Meet

To limit distractions, you can now blur your background. You appear in focus while everything behind you is blurred.

  1. Added participant controls for education users in Google Meet

G Suite Enterprise for Education and G Suite for Education meeting creators and calendar owners can now manage who can join their meetings.

  1. Present & chat capabilities for education users

Meeting creators and calendar owners of G Suite Enterprise for Education and G Suite for Education have new meeting safety controls. They can now manage who can share their screen and send chat messages.

  1. Cast Google Meet to your TV

Use a screen other than your computer or mobile device for Google Meet. You can cast Google Meet to your Chromecast, Chromecast built-in TV, or Nest smart display.

  1. Block participants from knocking again

We’ve made changes to “knocking”, how participants request to join a meeting, in Google Meet to reduce disruptions.

  1. Blocking anonymous users from education meetings on Google Meet

Anonymous users are now blocked by default from Google Meet meetings organized by G Suite Enterprise for Education or G Suite for Education.

  1. Filter out noise in video meetings

To help limit interruptions to your meeting, Meet can now filter out background noise such as keyboard typing, doors opening and closing, and construction outside your window. Cloud-based AI is used to remove noise from your audio input while still letting your voice through.

  1. Meet in Gmail for Mobile

Introducing a dedicated Meet tab in the Gmail iOS and Android mobile apps. Participants will be able to join secure video meetings directly in Gmail without needing to open another app on their phone.

  1. Improvements to tiled layouts

When you choose a layout, it is automatically saved as your preferred layout. This means it will be automatically applied to future meetings unless you change it.

  1. Saved layout preferences

When you choose a layout, it is automatically saved as your preferred layout. This means it will be automatically applied to future meetings unless you change it.

  1. Hide or show Meet in Gmail

You can now control whether Meet appears in your Gmail sidebar.

  1. Meet premium video meetings—free for everyone

Meet is free for everyone. Meet is a secure and reliable video conferencing solution that’s trusted by schools, governments and enterprises. Anyone with an email address can sign up for Meet and enjoy many of the same features available to our business and education users, such as simple scheduling and screen sharing, real-time captions, and layouts that adapt to your preference, including an expanded tiled view. Led layout for larger calls

  1. See and be seen in larger video meetings with a grid layout

Team meetings, celebrations, virtual classrooms, or any other large meetings that require you to see and connect with multiple participants at once.

  1. Meet in Gmail for web

Create and join meetings from Gmail on the web

Save time and keep your place without switching between meetings and your inbox—join and start meetings directly from Gmail (web only).

  1. Present high-quality video and audio in Meet

Share full-motion videos to enhance presentations

Present high-quality, full-motion videos (up to 30 fps) during a meeting.

  1. Low-light mode on mobile devices

Automatically adjust video in low-light conditions (mobile only)

When you’re calling in from your mobile device, low-light mode updates video quality so you can engage confidently from wherever you are.

  1. Controls for education accounts

For education accounts, only the meeting creator, calendar event owner, or person who sets up a meeting on an in-room hardware device can mute or remove video meeting participants. This ensures student participants can’t mute or remove one another or the teacher. (This automatic restriction is applied to all education accounts.

  1. Increased participant limits
  • If you have a Google Workspace Enterprise edition, you can now host meetings with up to 250 participants.
  • There are increased participant limits for all other Google Workspace editions. New maximum participant limits: Google Workspace Enterprise (250), G Suite Business (150), and G Suite Basic (100).
  1. International dial-in numbers available in more editions

 

Meeting Platform Accessibility

While I could provide an additional write up on accessibility features of all three, this article is already long enough. Here is a summary of the accessibility features in each meeting utility. This information is taken directly from the software developer websites.

 

Zoom Accessibility

  • Customize the font size of chat and closed captioning in our accessibility settings. Or if you use Zoom with a screen reader, focus on what you hear with granular control over screen reader alerts.
  • Keyboard Accessibility: Easily manage all major workflows with just your keyboard. Zoom also supports Keyboard Shortcuts to navigate our features
  • Screen Reader Support: Use Zoom without a screen. We follow the latest accessibility standards to ensure that the product is fully accessible to the latest screen readers.
  • Automatic Transcripts: Transcripts are automatically generated and synchronized to make it easy to search and review meetings recorded in the cloud.
  • Third Party Captioning
  • Never miss a word with closed captioning. Zoom integrates seamlessly with 3rd party closed captioning providers through our Closed Captioning REST API.
  • Rearrange videos: Create your own custom gallery view by clicking and dragging videos to a different position.
  • Multi-spotlight and multi-pinning: The host can spotlight the interpreter and speaker videos so everyone sees them, no matter who is speaking. Or you can pin multiple videos for your own custom view.
  • Compliance: Our products are compliant, with exceptions, with the following standards:
    • WCAG 2.1 AA Standards
    • Revised Section 508 Standards
    • EN 301 549 Accessibility requirements

 

Zoom Resources

  • Walk through our accessibility features. Available in ASL and IS (coming soon)
  • To provide accessibility feedback, report an issue, or request accessibility support, please email access@zoom.us
  • Accessibility FAQ

NVDA and Zoom

If you use the NVDA screen reader you may want to try the free zoom add-on for NVDA. I wrote an article about it called: Zoom Enhancements for NVDA, and you can check out the info on how to use the add-on with zoom at the above link.

 

Microsoft Teams Accessibility

  • Raise hand
  • Audio suppression for background noise

 

Google Meet Accessibility

  • Live captions—Display captions of the person speaking so that participants who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can follow what’s said in video meetings. If you record a video meeting, captions are not recorded and don’t appear when you play the recording.
    See: Use captions in a video meeting
  • Screen readers and magnifiers—Blind and low-vision users can use the built-in screen reader, full-page zoom, high-contrast color, and accessibility extensions in Chrome Browser.
    See: Google accessibility products and features
  • Keyboard shortcuts—Users can control the camera and microphone and open accessibility features using the keyboard.
    See: Google Workspace keyboard shortcuts
  • Google meeting room hardware—Hard-of-hearing and low-vision users can use spoken feedback and live captions on Google meet hardware and Chromebox and Chromebase for meetings.
    See: Google meeting room hardware accessibility

 

Keyboard Shortcuts

Sometimes knowing the right keyboard commands to get the job done can make all the difference. Below is a table with keyboard commands from each meeting platform. Note: these commands are assigned by each platform. Certain shortcuts may not work as expected because they may have been overridden by the screen reader. Consult your screen reader’s documentation for specifics.

 

Keyboard commands for Zoom, Teams, and meet
ActionZoomTeamsMeet
List Keyboard ShortcutsCTRL+. (PERIOD)CTRL+/ (Slash), or ? (QUESTION MARK)
List CommandsCTRL+/ (SLASH)
List JAWS Specific HotkeysINSERT+H, or CTRL+SHIFT+CAPSLOCK+H
Mute/Unmute AudioALT+ACTRL+SHIFT+MCTRL+D
Mute/Unmute Audio for Everyone Except HostALT+M
Start/Stop VideoALT+VCTRL+SHIFT+OCTRL+E
Switch CameraALT+N
Raise HandALT+YCONTROL+SHIFT+K
Leave MeetingALT+QCTRL+SHIFT+B
Announce Room InformationCTRL+ALT+I
Announce Current SpeakerCTRL+2 (or for JAWS: CTRL+SHIFT+T)CTRL+ALT+S
Toggle Alert Announcements (JAWS only)ALT+WINDOWS+S
Announce Last Alert (JAWS only)ALT+WINDOWS+A
Review Last Ten Alerts (JAWS only)CTRL+1 through CTRL+0 (CTRL F5 to only allow chat messages)
ParticipantsAlt+UCTRL+ALT+P
Admit Participants from LobbyCtrl+SHIFT+Y
Chat AreaALT+HCTRL+2CTRL+ALT+C
Increase Chat Display SizeCTRL++
Decrease Chat Display SizeCTRL+-
Hide Current Chat SessionCTRL+W
Previous ChatCTRL+UP ARROW
Next ChatCTRL+DOWN ARROW
New ChatCTRL+N
Start New ConversationALT+SHIFT+C
Reply to ThreadALT+SHIFT+R
Expand Compose BoxCTRL+SHIFT+X
SendCTRL+ENTER
Attach FileCTRL+O
Start New LineSHIFT+ENTER
Jump to Chat with SomeoneCTRL+T
Search Current Chat/Channel MessagesCTRL+F
Record/Stop RecordingALT+R
Pause/Resume RecordingALT+P
Start/Stop Cloud RecordingALT+C
Share Screen/ContentALT+SCTRL+SHIFT+E
Go to Sharing ToolbarCTRL+SHIFT+SPACE
Decline Screen ShareCTRL+SHIFT+D
Accept Screen ShareCTRL+SHIFT+A
Pause/Resume Screen SharingALT+T
Show/Hide Windows and Applications Available to ShareALT+SHIFT+S
Begin Remote ControlALT+SHIFT+R
Give Up Remote Control PermissionALT+SHIFT+G
ScreenshotALT+SHIFT+T
SettingsCTRL+, (COMMA)
Navigate Among Program SectionsF6CTRL+F6, SHIFT+CTRL+F6
SearchCTRL+FCTRL+E
Go ToCTRL+G
Open FilterCTRL+SHIFT+F
Open Apps FlyoutCTRL+` (GRAVE)
Open ActivityCTRL+1
Open TeamsCTRL+3
Open CallsCTRL+4
Open FilesCTRL+5 or CTRL+6
Previous List ItemALT+UP ARROW
Move Selected Team UpCTRL+SHIFT+UP ARROW
Move Selected Team DownCTRL+SHIFT+DOWN ARROW
Change Focus to Meeting ControlsCTRL+ALT+SHIFT
Always Show Meeting ControlsALT
Show/Hide Floating Meeting ControlsCTRL+ALT+SHIFT+H
Enter Full ScreenALT+F
Switch to Portrait/Landscape ViewALT+L
Switch to Speaker ViewALT+F1
Switch to Gallery ViewALT+F2
View Previous Page of Participants in Gallery ViewPAGE UP
View Next Page of Participants in Gallery ViewPAGE DOWN
Toggle Background BlurCtrl+SHIFT+P
Increase Maximum TilesCTRL+ALT+K
Decrease Maximum TilesCTRL+ALT+J
Invite ParticipantsALT+I
Schedule MeetingALT+SHIFT+N
Save/Send Meeting RequestCTRL+S
Join from Meeting DetailsALT+SHIFT+J
Accept Video CallCTRL+SHIFT+A
Accept Audio CallCTRL+SHIFT+ACTRL+SHIFT+S
Decline CallCTRL+SHIFT+DCTRL+SHIFT+D
End CallCTRL+SHIFT+ECTRL+SHIFT+E
Start Audio CallCTRL+SHIFT+C
Start Video CallCTRL+SHIFT+UP ARROW
Call Highlighted NumberCTRL+PCTRL+SHIFT+P
Mute/Unmute CallCTRL+SHIFT+M
Hold/Unhold CallCTRL+SHIFT+H
Go to Current TimeALT+. (PERIOD)
Go to Previous Day/WeekCTRL+ALT+LEFT ARROW
Go to Next Day/WeekCTRL+ALT+RIGHT ARROW
View DayCTRL+ALT+1
View WorkweekCTRL+ALT+2
View WeekCTRL+ALT+3
Go to Suggested TimeALT+SHIFT+S

 

Meeting Done!

Well, that’s it for this round. I truly hope this helps you get more out of your meetings. Now if there were only a feature to provide pizza during said meetings. Speaking of pizza, if you’ are so inclined, you can go to the following link and buy me a pizza. This took considerable time to research and tabulate. As always, your support is very much appreciated.

Until the next meeting…

Qapla!

One Comment

  1. In windows 11 Microsoft removed skype and integrated teams as their default meeting app. really teams is the best software for office meetings. But it is not that comfortable like skype. But yeah! Teams is a good software!

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