Zoom gets its first major overhaul in 10 years, powered by generative AI

Zoom Workplace moves into general availability, giving the platform a huge AI facelift. Here's what's new and how to see for yourself.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Zoom Workplace

If you use Zoom for video calls at work, prepare for things to change. The tech company is using artificial intelligence (AI) to address popular complaints and optimize its video-calling experience in its flagship product's first major overhaul in over 10 years.

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On Monday, just a few weeks after Zoom announced Zoom Workplace, the AI-powered collaboration platform became generally available to users. The redesign updates nearly every aspect of the application.

"Zoom Workplace delivers an AI-powered experience that fuels productivity and collaboration to help teams make the most of their time," Zoom Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim said in a statement.   

Fresh look

For starters, the app looks different. Users can pick between four color themes in addition to the basic gray backdrop that currently lives behind the video screens. The call host can add different meeting backgrounds that support a more immersive experience. 

Zoom Workplace includes a new multi-speaker view that places speaking participants on a "stage". The other participants are placed underneath in a traditional gallery view, as seen below. This approach aims to foster better discussion between participants. 

Zoom Workplace

Similar to how users currently use the "Share screen" feature to look at the same screen together, users will have a document collaboration option for importing third-party documents and co-editing text during meetings. Users can also customize the toolbar at the bottom of the screen to keep only their preferred features.

Better user interactions

Zoom has also added new features to help users better interact with other call participants. The new portrait lighting feature uses AI to illuminate the user's face in poor lighting while darkening the background for a portrait effect. I had the opportunity to see this feature in a demo. It worked pretty well and made the speaker appear well-lit.

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Meanwhile, the personalized audio isolation feature suppresses background noise and helps users' voices sound clear in meetings in a loud environment, such as a busy office or coffee shop. Lastly, dynamic reactions allow users to display enhanced emoji expressions that are bigger and more present than in the past.

Improved collaboration

Zoom has also implemented fresh collaboration features, such as a new Meetings tab, where users can find all the information they need for their meeting, including assets such as PDFs, videos, and more, as seen in the screenshot below.

Zoom Workplace
Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

After the meeting, the Meeting Event hub pulls together everything that was shared in the meeting, including meeting assets, AI companion summaries, recordings, and continuous meeting chats.

Continuous meeting chat automatically shares a meeting recap in Team Chat after the meeting, including assets, summaries, and more. The Team Chat tab, found next to the Meetings tab, helps users access all chat-related resources, such as assets, live links, whiteboards, and more, according to the press release. 

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Team Chat will also include new generative AI capabilities within Zoom AI Companion, such as a thread summary to quickly catch up on messages, sentence completion to write new messages, and a quick schedule to prompt a user to schedule a meeting when it's brought up in the chat.

How to access Zoom Workplace

To access Zoom Workplace, the company says that account owners and users can update their Zoom app to version 6.0.0 or download the update from Zoom's website. Zoom says that Zoom AI Companion is included at no additional cost "for customers with the paid services assigned to their Zoom user accounts," which presumably means that if you're using Zoom for free, you don't get access to the AI feature.

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