Microsoft wants Teams to be your communication hub. For everything.
The Redmond, Washington-based company announced a slew of new features, tools and apps coming as part of its new Microsoft 365 subscription. However, one of the standout announcements was that Teams would now work for families as well as businesses.
Teams, for those unfamiliar with the platform, is Microsoft’s business communication hub. It has a lot in common with Slack, another communication tool for businesses. Even Google is trying to get into this space, with reports suggesting it’s working on a chat platform that ties into G Suite services.
Whether you use Teams or Slack, these chat platforms have become invaluable to many businesses. And Microsoft now thinks that value can be expanded to families.
It’s an interesting proposition. On the one hand, offering users the ability to switch between work and personal profiles is something Slack doesn’t offer. Sure, you can sign into multiple Slack workspaces, swap between them and effectively use them for whatever you want. But Microsoft, at least from this announcement, appears to be doing more.
On the other hand, Teams for families puts Microsoft’s business chat platform in direct competition with the countless other messaging platforms out there. Can Teams do enough to pull WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Signal and Telegram users away from their respective platforms? It might.
A feature suite you actually want
To grasp the potential allure of Teams, you need to understand two things. The first is the benefit of having one app for all your communication, and the other is the wealth of features Teams offers — features I think people will really want.
First up, having one app for all communication would be a huge boon, especially for people who aren’t as tech-savvy. It would mean they wouldn’t have to learn multiple apps just to send a message, and people can get stuff done faster if everything they need is in one familiar place. Considering some 44 million people use Teams every day, that’s a lot of people that could benefit from consolidating communication to one platform.
As for the features, Microsoft announced a few things. However, with Teams’ new features not going into preview until the summer, there are some specifics missing. Plus, it’s hard to say how much of an impact these new features will have since we can’t test them out yet.
That said, there’s some promise here. For one, Teams will offer family users access to group chats and video or audio calls. While those are expected functions, the other features are more interesting.
According to Microsoft, users will be able to work on shared to-do lists with friends and family through Teams, assign other people tasks, coordinate schedules and share photos and videos. In a family setting, these features could help parents plan family outings, make chore lists and assign duties to kids, plan around activities, events and appointments, and more.
Further, Microsoft Teams will let users store important information like account details or Wi-Fi passwords. Judging by a product screenshots the company shared, those items will go into the ‘Safe’ on the Teams family dashboard. This could be a great tool for securely sharing the house Wi-Fi, or giving family members access to the Netflix password.
Finally, Teams will also offer a location sharing tool that will let users share location updates with their family.
Most of these features, but particularly the Safe, are things I’d love to have on messaging apps I already use. They could prove enticing enough to get users to switch, but it remains to be seen just how effective Teams will be at communication for everything.