Microsoft Teams is not the first name that comes to mind if you’re looking for an alternative communications platform to WhatsApp after the controversial policy change around user data. So far, Teams has made its name as a workplace collaboration platform, but it is now going personal to become your preferred platform for staying in touch with family and friends. Today, Microsoft has announced that Teams is now available for personal use as well, and it is free on mobile (both Android and iOS), desktop as well as the web.
So, what features do you get on Microsoft Teams? Well, you can chat with friends and family members, to begin with. And even if they don’t have the app on their phone, Teams will let you communicate with them via SMS. But that’s not all. You can create tasks and to-do lists directly from chats, making it easier to collaborate on a family event such as your next barbecue party. Moreover, you can also schedule meetings and share invites without leaving your chats. And soon, Teams will also let you create polls in the app.
Coming to video calls, Teams will let you conduct a video call with up to 300 participants for free for up to 24 hours. However, this is a temporary perk for the pandemic era and will be waived off soon. Even after being scraped, Teams will allow you free 24-hour video calls for 1-on-1 interactions, while group calls will be capped at 100 participants for a maximum of 60 minutes. And in case the tile view reminds you of exhausting office video calls, Teams has a Together Mode that changes the view to that of a virtual cafe or a lounge for a more relaxed feel.
Moreover, there are some cool options to express yourself such as GIFs, chat animations, and emojis during video calls. And just in case you missed a group video call, you can still catch up on the fun as Teams keeps the text-based conversation happening during a group video call. Another convenience is that anyone can receive a Teams invite and join a video call over the web, even people who don’t have a Teams account.
Another cool feature is a dashboard that keeps all the media and files shared in a chat in one place, and does that for each conversation. And just in case you’re worried, you can create separate profiles for work and family, and switch between them with just a single tap. You can read more about all the Teams features in the official announcement post here, and assess whether it is a viable WhatsApp alternative for you.