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Microsoft now lets you spice up your Teams calls with custom backgrounds

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More people are working from home now than ever, and Microsoft is adding to Teams’ features to help make the transition a little smoother. One of the latest features to hit the service is custom backgrounds, which Microsoft announced are now generally available in Teams. There are also a few other features set to roll out in the coming weeks and months that should come in handy in your meetings.

Custom backgrounds use some of the same tech that Microsoft used in creating the “background blur” feature for Teams calls. You can choose from a selection of images, and it will magically replace what people see behind you on any video call. From Microsoft:

Custom backgrounds, which allow you to replace your background in Teams meetings with a fresh and bright home office, for example, is now generally available in Teams. This feature builds upon background blur, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to blur the environment behind you. In the future, we will also include the ability to upload your own custom images.

In addition to custom backgrounds, Microsoft is also in the process of bringing some other handy features to your Teams meetings. Here’s a look:

  • To make video calls more inclusive, the raise hand feature we announced last month is rolling out globally this month. It lets meeting participants indicate they have something to say during a meeting by clicking on a hand-raise icon in the meeting control bar.
  • Today, we are releasing the ability for meeting organizers to end a meeting for all participants with the click of a button. Meeting organizers can now find an option to “end meeting” in the meeting control bar options.
  • Meeting organizers, especially teachers, often need to know who joined their Teams meetings. This month, you will be able to download a participant report, found in the participant list, that includes join and leave times for participants.
  • Later this year, we will bring real-time noise suppression, which uses AI to reduce distracting background noise such as loud typing or a barking dog in Teams meetings.

The news comes on the heels of Microsoft revealing some new milestones as Teams usage has surged over the last month. Those include 2.7 billion minutes of calls made in just one day, and a 1,000 percent growth in video calls for March.

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If you want to give Teams a try, you can give it a shot for free by downloading the software from the official Teams site. While it’s still meant mostly for businesses, Microsoft also recently announced that it’s launching Teams for consumers as part of a broader Microsoft 365 consumer push later this year.

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