Zoom is adding live translation services, more hybrid work features – CNET

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Zoom is adding new features including live translation services — but they may come at an extra cost.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At its annual Zoomtopia conference on Monday, Zoom unveiled several new features for the video chat platform, aiming to help its millions of users in the transition to the hybrid workforce

Upgrades include live, multilanguage transcription and translation for Zoom calls. The platform will use machine learning and natural language processing to first transcribe the spoken language, and then each participant will be able to translate it to their own language, Zoom executives said during a press call. A beta will be available this month, and the feature should be generally available by the end of the year. The list of languages is not yet final, there will be 30 transcription and 12 translation options by the end of 2022, they added. 

Zoom Whiteboard, essentially a digital canvas, will allow remote and in-office employees to interact via virtual whiteboard: You’ll be able to write on the digital whiteboard from either a desktop or a tablet. And Zoom Rooms Smart Gallery — which displays multiple camera feeds from in-person meetings to remote attendees, so you can better see everyone — will be updated to include individual video feeds of in-person participants. A hot-desking feature will help employees reserve desks and other spaces in their offices with an interactive map. 

The company is also adding a Zoom Widget that you can dock on your laptop or desktop screen so you can more easily see your meeting schedule, view who’s in a meeting before you join — and let you send a message to the host if you’re running late.

Some of these new features, such as the Smart Gallery changes, will be included in free Zoom upgrades in the next year. But others, including the translation service, will require an additional fee, though the amount has not yet been announced. 

Zoom quickly became the video chat service of choice for millions of people during the pandemic for work and socializing. These additions mark another way that companies including ZoomMicrosoft and Google and are aiming to aid people in their move to remote and hybrid work. 

For more, check out our tips for using Zoom like a pro and how to change your Zoom background

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