Friday, September 29, 2023

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Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool comes to Teams

Designer, Microsoft’s AI-powered art-generating tool, is coming to the free version of Teams.

Starting today in preview on Windows 11, Microsoft Teams users can tap Designer, a Canva-like app, to generate designs for presentations, posters, digital postcards and more to share on social media and other channels. Designer accepts text prompts or uploaded images, and leverages DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s text-to-image AI, to ideate designs — with drop-downs and text boxes for further customization and personalization.

Designer, which is also available via the web and in Microsoft’s Edge browser through the sidebar, was originally announced last October. New features, including caption generation and animated visuals, arrived in April, and Microsoft promised more — like advanced editing features — are on the way.

Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to monetize Designer through Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions, but the company hasn’t telegraphed where pricing might land, exactly. It has said, however, that some of the tool’s functionality will remain free. Which functionality is anyone’s guess.

Microsoft Teams Designer

Image Credits: Microsoft

Other Teams updates announced today have decidedly less to do with AI.

Now, users of GroupMe, Microsoft’s free group messaging app, can create Teams calls by starting a call from inside any new or existing group chat.

And beginning this week, Teams’ communities feature, which lets users connect, share and collaborate in Discord-like groups, is supported on Windows 11 (with macOS and Windows 10 compatibility to come down the line). As with Teams communities on other platforms, Windows 11 users can create communities, host events, moderate content and get notified about upcoming events and activities.

A new communities discovery feature, set to roll out in the coming days on Windows 11, iOS and Android, allows Teams users to join communities focused on topics like parenting, gaming, gardening, technology and remote work. (It’s up to community owners on iOS and Android to enable their communities to be discovered on Teams, Microsoft says.) Owners can approve or reject requests to join their communities and assign owner controls to others in the group, as well as create polls via MSForms and share posts as emails, if they so choose.

In a related update, Teams community members can now record videos from their mobile devices using a new capture experience with updated filters and markup tools. And on iOS, community owners can scan and invite emails or phone numbers from an online document, paper directory or other list using their phone camera.

The plethora of new features arrives as Teams continues to grow, majorly bolstered by remote and hybrid work trends. The number of daily active Teams users almost doubled from 2021 to 2022, increasing from 145 million users to 270 million.

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