These Microsoft Teams features are now coming to desk phones

Microsoft Teams for video desk phones is gaining features that were built for remote working.

After a year of back-to-back video meetings, many people are just over them. But video meetings are still essential for work and Microsoft is rolling out a few handy features for Teams that should help make meetings easier for returning to the office and using video-equipped desk phones. 

Microsoft's custom backgrounds for Teams on the desktop has been around for a year. It came to iOS and Android this April and is now available on desk phones with video. 

The feature allows mobile users to pick one of Microsoft's backgrounds during a video call to conceal their actual background and add a bit of color and privacy to a meeting. 

Microsoft only recently added real-time transcription to Teams but it was for the desktop application and could create transcriptions for multiple participants. 

The desk phone version can't handle group call live transcriptions, but it will now support one-to-one meetings and displays the text on the screen in real time. Live transcription for desk phones only works in English and isn't available on phones within Microsoft's government cloud.   

A neat hand-off feature of Teams today is that it allows users to transfer calls and meetings across devices. In full remote working, this meant switching from a laptop to a smartphone or vice versa. Now this capability is available for Teams-equipped desk phones, allowing users to easily switch between a laptop or smartphone and a desk phone. 

"Today if you are taking a meeting on your PC, you can see a prompt which suggests adding your mobile device to split the audio and video, or transferring completely," Microsoft says.  

"This comes in handy if you are in a call and need to move around away from your PC, you can seamlessly stay connected. With the new release, this functionality will come to Teams phones as well. Your phone will recognize you are in a call on another device and prompt you to transfer or add, letting you start your call from elsewhere and transfer to your desk phone."

Contacts in Outlook now appear under the People app on the desk phone interface. Contacts are read-only, allowing desk phone users to search the phone for contacts to call or email them using Outlook.