Zoom announced human avatars today for its video meeting app. Like Apple’s Memoji or the humanoid cartoons Mark Zuckerberg wants us to use in the metaverse, the customizable virtual characters mirror your movements and facial expressions. The idea is to inject zaniness into less formal meetings, letting you be present without appearing on camera as your (flesh and blood) self.
The human avatars follow Zoom’s release of animal avatars earlier this year. The company suggests using avatars when you are eating, don’t want to use a static profile pic or feel like livening up the mundane. The feature is available to beta testers, which requires a paid account. Zoom adds that it will roll out new facial features, hairstyles and customization options as the beta progresses.
Zoom also announced templates as shortcuts for various meeting types. You can now create your own templates or choose from three out-of-the-box setups. These include large meetings (automated captions and automatically recorded content), seminars (tighter crowd-control settings with screen-sharing disabled) and K-12 (enabled polls and quizzes while limiting distracting features). You can learn how to create templates by following these instructions.
The company is also soon adding threaded messages and reactions for in-meeting chats. Similar to what you’d see in Slack, Facebook Messenger or iMessage, message threads make it easier to figure out which message someone is replying to. Similarly, emoji reactions help clean up the chat and pair the response with the original message. Zoom says threads and emoji reactions will arrive later this month.
Finally, Zoom is adding Q&A in meetings. The idea is for meeting hosts to stay organized, confining group questions to one area of the app. The Q&A pop-out lets meeting hosts view, answer or dismiss queries. They can also choose whether participants can view all questions or only answered ones. However, hosts will need a premium plan to use the feature.