Zoom unveils immersive app for Apple’s Vision Pro headset | Digital Trends

Zoom unveils immersive app for Apple’s Vision Pro headset | Digital Trends

Zoom

Zoom has just unveiled its videoconferencing app designed especially for Apple’s Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, which launches this Friday.

The aim of the app is to “seamlessly blend videoconferencing with user’s physical space,” Zoom said on Monday, “blurring the lines of in-person and remote meetings with the infinite canvas on Apple Vision Pro, helping distributed teams feel more connected and included.”

But what does that actually mean? Well, for example, the new Zoom app for Vision Pro will let you deploy your “persona,” an authentic spatial representation — or digital avatar — of yourself so that others in the virtual meeting can see your facial and hand movements and aren’t left staring at a face-obscuring headset.

Available from the Vision Pro App Store, the new Zoom app will also let you enjoy an immersive experience that can be scaled to the ideal size, which, Zoom says, is great for those wanting “to feel like they’re in the same room as their colleagues and customers, without the need for additional physical equipment or setup.”

Coming in the spring are three additional and rather nifty features. They include, for example, real-world pinning, where the Vision Pro wearer will be able to pin up to five Zoom meeting participants anywhere in their physical space, with the ability to also remove the background of the pinned participants.

Additionally, 3D object sharing promises that the experience of sharing files “will come to life when seeing objects in the context of an environment. For instance, an animator or game designer could collaborate and share the latest character model via Zoom’s 3D object sharing capabilities.”

Commenting on the new app, Smita Hashim, chief product officer at Zoom, said the software will help teammates “stay connected no matter when and where they work, or how they communicate and collaborate.” Hashim added: “The integration of Zoom on Apple Vision Pro and visionOS extends our platform promise of allowing participants the ultimate meeting experience from anywhere and delivers on our commitment of seamless collaboration and communication.”

It’s good to see that Zoom has taken the time to create a tailor-made app for the Vision Pro, especially when many major platforms have so far declined to do so. YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify, for example, have all said that they have no current plans to create bespoke apps for the Vision Pro, or even to convert their existing iPad and iPhone apps for the device.

Here’s a look at some of the notable Vision Pro apps that we do know are on their way.

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Apple TV with Zoom means it’s finally time to call your mother | Digital Trends

Apple TV with Zoom means it’s finally time to call your mother | Digital Trends

Zoom on Apple TV uses your iPhone as a camera (sweet dog blanket not included). Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Zoom is now available on Apple TV, complete with Continuity Camera. That means you can use your iPhone camera as, well, the camera and your TV as the screen on which to see the folks on the other side of the call. And because Zoom is a cross-platform app, it means you don’t have anymore excuses for your Android-wielding family.

All of which means: it’s time to call your mother.

OK, so there have been other ways to call home via video, of course, even using your iPhone in conjunction with Apple TV. FaceTime has worked on tvOS with Continuity Camera with the rollout of tvOS 17. And it’s very cool. But if you’re looking to talk with someone who isn’t on an iPhone, or who just prefers a different app for this sort of thing? Zoom is going to be a very cool option.

And because we’re talking about Continuity Camera and not just static lens that’s pointed in your general direction, it’ll zoom in on most important face (or faces, if you’ve got the family on the couch with you), and even track your ugly mug if and when you start to drift a little bit.

There’s not much you have to do to get things going. It just requires Zoom on your Apple TV — which, by the way, is our pick for the best streaming device — and then a few taps to get things going (you don’t even have to log in if you don’t want to). Then you approve using your phone as the camera, and Bob’s your uncle.

One strong recommendation, though: If you’re at all serious about this sort of thing — whether using Zoom or any other video calling app with Apple TV, and whether you’re alone or with family — spend a few bucks and invest in a basic tripod that’ll hold your phone. Nobody wants motion sickness because you’re weaving all over the place. And going hands-free lets you pay more attention to what’s really important — the family on the other side of the call.

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How to watch Netflix with friends using Teleparty and Zoom | Digital Trends

How to watch Netflix with friends using Teleparty and Zoom | Digital Trends

Netflix is one of the oldest streaming platforms out there, and it’s still one of the best apps for indulging in new movies and TV shows, as well as classic content. It’s also the kind of streamer that should be shared with others (not that kind of sharing), but it’s often kind of difficult to get everyone under the same roof. Not to worry though, for there are a couple of ways you can host a Netflix watch party from the comfort of your home, while your pals and family members tune in from their respective domiciles, too. Here’s how.

How to use Teleparty to watch Netflix with friends

Creating an interactive Netflix watch party isn’t too difficult, thanks to an intuitive browser extension called Teleparty. Once you and all your pals have this Chrome extension downloaded to your PCs, you’ll be able to start watching your favorite movies and TV shows as a group.

Everyone will have access to chat functions and playback controls, and downloading the Teleplay extension isn’t too difficult either. That being said, let’s get this party started!

Step 1: First and foremost, all your friends watching need their own Netflix account, or at least need to have access to Netflix login information they can use.

It’s also important that your friends have devices that they can use to watch shows on their browsers. While TVs may suffice for your classic Netflix streaming experience, to gather friends around for serious online viewing requires a capable browser and reasonable internet speed. Try to get everyone on computers or laptops. Tablets may work in a pinch.


Netflix

Step 2: The best Netflix-viewing software is called Teleparty — previously known as Netflix Party, before it added compatibility with Hulu, HBO, and Disney+ (something to keep in mind for the future). It now also offers compatibility with Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

Teleparty works via a Chrome extension. If a friend doesn’t use the Chrome browser, work on getting them to download it just for this purpose, if nothing else. Then everyone can visit the Teleparty website and select Get Teleparty for free. Alternatively, people can search for “Teleparty” in the Chrome Web Store, which should bring up an extension called Netflix Party is now Teleparty.

Downloading the extension is effortless, and will put a small TP logo in the corner of your Chrome browser window — this usually happens automatically, but you may need to choose Pin to Chrome during setup to ensure it appears. Everyone needs to make sure they have that TP logo before you begin your session.

Teleparty get started screen showing the first three steps.

Derek Malcolm / Digital Trends

Step 3: Pick someone to be the host: Since you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it will be you. The host’s job is to log into their Netflix account on the Chrome browser and start watching the selected show on the Netflix site. Immediately pause the show once you’ve begun. Double-check that your URL looks something like “www.netflix.com/watch/” and then a video ID number. Now you’re ready to begin.

The Start a party option in the Teleparty Chrome browser extension.

Netflix/Teleparty

Step 4: Click on that red TP logo we mentioned before — it has to be red before you can successfully use it — and choose Start the party. This will open a chat window on the left side where everyone can chat about the show you are watching. You (and everyone else) can minimize this chat window whenever you want by selecting the TP logo again to hide it or bring it back.

We also suggest starting a voice chat around this time. Currently, Teleparty doesn’t support audio chatting, so starting a group call is a good idea, at least in the introductory stage. You could also use a video chat service like Zoom or FaceTime, but keep in mind that will eat into precious bandwidth you’ll need to run Teleparty.

A Teleparty screen.

Netflix/Teleparty

Step 5: With the chat window open, select the silver link icon just to the left of your round user icon toward the top of the window. This will automatically copy the link for the Netflix video. Send that link in a chat or email to everyone invited to the Netflix party.

The guests’ job is now very easy. They just click on the invite link, which should open the right Netflix video using the Chrome browser (making sure you’re in Chrome first is a good idea). Then they can select the red TP logo at the corner of the screen, which will open the chat window and connect them to the host’s party. You will be able to see everyone joining the party under the account name they have chosen.

The Chat screen in the Teleparty Chrome browser extension.

Netflix/Teleparty

Step 6: When everyone has joined the chat, you can select play to start the Netflix viewing session. Here’s where the magic of Teleparty comes in: Everyone linked up and watching has control over the video, so it’s like you’re all sharing the remote. When one person pauses to the video to go grab a beer or go to the bathroom, then it’s paused for everyone so no one misses anything. Likewise for skipping certain parts of the video and other commands … but you can give only the host control by choosing Only I have control when starting a new session.

It’s a good idea to find the right mix of chatting and/or audio for everyone as you proceed, and then settle down to enjoy the show. A small group of any size should have no trouble using the software, although you might run into trouble if your group has more than a few dozen people (it’s not ideal for classroom viewing events, for example).

Important note: If you are switching to a different show or movie, this will probably end the current session you are on. That means you will have to create a new session as host and re-invite everyone if you are moving on to different content.

How to use Zoom to watch Netflix with friends

If you you use Zoom for video conferencing for work or just to hang out with friends, then you already know how powerful of a tool it is for staying connected. But it’s also a pretty simple-to-use and convenient way to watch Netflix, or other video streaming services for that matter, with a group of friends. Here’s how it all works.

Step 1: It’s as easy as sharing your screen. Start a Zoom call with your friends and simply select Share Screen found at the center-bottom of the Zoom meeting. By pressing Share Screen in the Home Menu, Zoom clients will then be given the prompt: Enter sharing key or meeting ID.

The Share Screen option in Zoom.

Zoom

Step 2: Make sure your Zoom settings are set to Share Computer Sounds. As the setting name implies, this allows for sounds other than your voice to be heard through the Zoom call. If the Zoom user is having issues, specifically a muted Netflix movie experience, check the box next to Share computer sounds in the drop-down menu under Share screen on the Zoom Home page.

The Share Settings in Zoom.

Zoom

Step 3: Next you have to choose the screen you would like to share. In this case, you can either pick the Netflix desktop application or a web browser, such as Google Chrome, and navigate to the Netflix site. The Netflix app is recommended, due to a more intuitive user interface and video quality when paired with the conferencing capabilities of Zoom. All that’s left to do it enjoy the movie together.

Selecting Screen Share in Zoom.

Zoom

The beauty of technology is that you no longer have to be in the same room, same house, or even the same country as your loved ones to watch a movie together. Scroll through the many films or shows Netflix has to offer and pick your favorites for your Zoom watch party.

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Zoom adds ChatGPT to help you catch up on missed calls | Digital Trends

Zoom adds ChatGPT to help you catch up on missed calls | Digital Trends

The Zoom video-calling app has just added its own “AI Companion” assistant that integrates artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) from ChatGPT maker OpenAI and Facebook owner Meta. The tool is designed to help you catch up on meetings you missed and devise quick responses to chat messages.

Zoom’s developer says the AI Companion “empowers individuals by helping them be more productive, connect and collaborate with teammates, and improve their skills.”

Zoom

For example, Zoom’s blog post explains that if you are late to a meeting, its AI Companion can summarize what happened while you were absent. It can also suggest action points and highlight topics of discussion after a meeting, as well as divide cloud recordings into more digestible chapters.

A few extra features are in the works. Later in September, the AI Companion will be able to help you write emails and summarize chat messages, while Zoom says it will suggest responses to text chats later in the fall.

Further into the future, the AI Companion will assist you in finding documents, filing support tickets, and preparing for upcoming meetings, all based on live calls or those that have happened in the past.

Privacy concerns

A user on a Zoom call with four other participants.
Zoom

That all sounds interesting, but Zoom is no stranger to controversy, having been called out for its misleading end-to-end encryption claims and creepy emotion-detecting technology. For many people, the idea of integrating a generative AI tool into your sensitive calls could start ringing the privacy alarm bells.

Zoom has tried to allay these concerns by saying that its AI Companion will respect your privacy. In its blog post, the company claimed that “Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen sharing, attachments, or other communications-like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models.”

However, the company faced a backlash in August 2023 after it was claimed the app’s terms allowed it to harvest user data and feed it into AI tools. Zoom later clarified the terms to say it didn’t use communications data to train its AI, but it still appears that the app can scoop up “service-generated data,” such as user telemetry and product usage data. Whether any of this goes towards training AI models is unclear.

The AI Companion requires a paid Zoom account and is available to premium users for no added cost. Zoom says additional features will be announced “in the coming weeks.”

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Zoom can train AI on your videos: what you need to know | Digital Trends

Zoom can train AI on your videos: what you need to know | Digital Trends

Zoom

Like everyone else, Zoom has added AI features to improve its app and video conferencing service. We all love the ease and speed AI provides, but there are often concerns about the data used to train models. Zoom is training its AI on customer data. Here’s what you need to know.

News leaked in May 2022 that Zoom was working on emotion-sensing AI that could analyze faces in meetings. Beyond the potential for inaccurate analysis, the results could be discriminatory.

More recently, privacy concerns have arisen since Zoom updated its terms of service to allow the use of your data to train its AI model. Following a backlash, Zoom adjusted the language to provide more transparency about this issue and clarified how the option works.

In bold text, the update reads, “For AI, we do not use audio, video, or chat content for training our models without customer consent.” It’s that last part about consent that’s a little tricky. Zoom won’t use your data to train its models across the board, but it will if you consent. That consent is automatically applied when you engage a Zoom IQ feature. You can still use Zoom IQ without your data being harvested for training, but you have to manually opt out once the AI features are enabled.

The Zoom IQ AI feature is off by default. Meeting administrators can turn it on to generate a summary when the meeting ends. When enabled, anyone joining the call will see a pop-up notification alerting them, “Meeting Summary has been enabled.”

You can enter the meeting, implicitly giving consent, or leave the meeting. That might be a difficult choice if it’s a work meeting. Can you afford to skip a meeting? That’s an issue to raise with the meeting administrator.

Zoom's in-meeting notification that AI features are enabled.
Zoom’s in-meeting notification that AI features are enabled. Zoom

Sections 10.2 and 10.4 of Zoom’s terms of service grant full rights to store and distribute your data for training and tuning its AI models. A notwithstanding clause appears after 10.4 to clarify that “Zoom will not use audio, video or chat Customer Content to train our artificial intelligence models without your consent.”

There’s a legitimate concern about sharing too much data with an AI. It’s relatively easy to create a deepfake of your voice or face with AI.

Digital Trends reached out to ask Zoom what consent looked like for training its AI model, and it provided the following statement:

“Zoom generative AI features are default off. Zoom account owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts and can opt out of providing their Customer Content to Zoom for model training at the time of enablement. Customers can change the account’s data sharing selection at any time.”

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How your boss can spy on you with Slack, Zoom, and Teams | Digital Trends

How your boss can spy on you with Slack, Zoom, and Teams | Digital Trends

Slack and Teams are both super useful: They enable quick communication around the office, allow for remote work and work-from-home situations, and let employees easily share a variety of content. The downside to that is that bosses can also use them to keep an eye on what you’re doing and how active you are during your workday.

How bad can this boss monitoring get? Let’s take a look at what bosses can view on these apps and what you can keep private.

Slack

Apps like Slack, Teams, and other common business collaboration platforms are structured via admin permissions. In other words, with the right permissions, your boss can have a large amount of control over the platform and what’s happening on it. And if a manager goes to IT — well, they can ask to see just about anything that happens on the app.

Slack can export data on communication for companies upon request for low-tier plans, and higher-tier plans can give company management the ability to directly access information. Supervisors with permissions can see things like:

Slack doesn’t delete messages but may limit how companies can search messages or allow employers to decide how long messages are stored. For the high-tier Enterprise Slack subscriptions, employers can look at just about anything as long as Slack has been used.

Zoom

A woman on a Zoom call.
Zoom

Zoom changed a lot during the remote work boom and has generally become more conducive to employee privacy over time. The app allows you to separate business and personal accounts, for example, which is always a good idea. You can also directly upload Zoom meetings to your desktop instead of the cloud, which adds some additional privacy options for certain videos. However, the business version of Zoom does allow supervisors to do things like:

  • Read any chat messages sent between employees via a saved transcript after the meeting.
  • Review meetings uploaded to the cloud on the business account.
  • See when meetings take place, who is in them, and when participants join or leave meetings.

At one point, Zoom did have a feature known as “attendee attention tracking.” This feature essentially let meeting hosts know if participants are likely not focused on the meeting because the Zoom app window isn’t active. It’s worth noting that Zoom removed this feature as of April 2, 2020.

Teams

The Welsh public ministers attend a Microsoft Teams meeting.
Microsoft

Microsoft Teams allows for a lot of employer tracking, depending on how much bosses want to see. In general, if you’re doing something on Teams, your employer can see it if they want to — there’s not much guaranteed privacy at all. With the right setup, bosses have the ability to:

  • Track all chats, calls, and meetings in any channel.
  • Track employee status, including how long they are active on Teams and how long they are away.
  • See the apps and Teams tools employees are using (within Teams).

Google Workspace

Google Workspace in Firefox on a Windows laptop.

Employers have an incredible amount of spying power in Google Workspace, too, if they’re willing to pay for it. High-tier plans allow supervisors to access the “Vault,” which holds pretty much everything. That means employers can:

  • Search content from Google Drive, Groups, Chat, Voice Chat, Classic Hangouts, and Google Meet.
  • Search content sent through connected accounts on Gmail (that includes drafts of emails that weren’t sent).
  • Track sign-in times and activity.
  • Track how users create and send content.

Additional bossware

Graphs in Teramind.

Business collaboration apps are only the beginning. There’s a whole additional field of software known as bossware or tattleware, which employers can demand that workers install. That includes tools like Hubstaff, InterGuard, Teramind, and TimeCamp.

Tools like these can monitor what social media apps you are using and how long you are using them, and even collect data on how you are using social media — including what you’re typing in your personal accounts. Timers and exceptions can be created, so employers have the ability to customize this monitoring software in many ways. Other apps like Hubstaff can take screenshots of your desktop, while Teramind can make real-time recordings on demand. And most bossware can at least track mouse movement and keystrokes to see how “active” you are being.

If that sounds like it could be invasive or harmful, well, the Center for Democracy and Technology appears to agree. They have warned that bossware could be hazardous to an employee’s health.

Is this legal?

Generally speaking, yes. A few states require employers to provide written notice to employees that they will be monitored, but even this isn’t common yet. As long as an employer doesn’t discriminate by targeting specific employees to monitor and doesn’t monitor employees away from work hours, there’s no legal recourse at this time.

There’s not a lot of legal precedent yet, but employers have a lot of wiggle room here because employees can theoretically choose to quit rather than submit to monitoring. State regulations are traditionally very slow to catch up with trends like this.

What can I do about this?

Nothing on your business collaboration apps is private. Follow that rule, and you shouldn’t have much to worry about. If your bosses are actively tracking your status and activity as a way to measure your productivity, there are some ways to push back on this, such as making sure your Microsoft Teams status is always active or using a mouse jiggler to simulate mouse activity when you’re AFK. As for particularly invasive bossware, there aren’t many choices right now except considering if the job is worth it and what your other options may be.

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Zoom calls are coming to Sony TVs | Digital Trends

Zoom calls are coming to Sony TVs | Digital Trends

Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Sony and Zoom Video Communications — the company behind the popular video calling platform — have announced a partnership that will bring the Google TV version of the Zoom app to select Sony Bravia TVs. Owners of these TVs will also need Sony’s Bravia Cam accessory to take advantage of the feature.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve been able to do Zoom calls from a TV. In 2021, Amazon was the first company to provide a way to Zoom on the big screen, using its Fire TV Cube and a compatible Logitech webcam. Later that same year, Amazon added the feature to its newly-released Omni TVs.

However, Sony says the collaboration makes Sony’s Bravia the first TV brand to support the Zoom for TV app from the Google Play Store — effectively making this the first Zoom instance on a Google TV.

Zoom on Bravia TVs includes video communication, screen sharing, and collaboration tools. To get going, you’ll need a $198 and a compatible Sony Bravia TV. These include the following 2023 models:

  • X95L
  • X93L
  • A80L
  • X90L
  • X85L
  • X80L
  • X75L

And these 2022 models:

  • Z9K
  • A95K
  • X95K
  • A90K
  • A80K
  • A75K
  • X90K
  • X90S
  • X85K
  • X80K

Some of these models, like QD-OLED A95K, come with a Bravia Cam from the factory. Once the cam is connected to your TV, you’ll be able to download and install the Zoom app from the Google Play store with your remote. However, you’ll need to wait — Sony says the app will be available “by early summer,” but it did not say exactly when that will be.

If you don’t already own a Bravia Cam, it’s a pricey upgrade compared to many webcams on the market, but Sony promises you’ll be able to do more than just Zoom calls once it’s installed.

Features like Ambient Optimization Pro can recognize where you are in the room and how far you are from the TV and adjust sound and picture settings accordingly. Gesture Control lets you perform certain functions without the remote just by using your arms. Proximity Alert detects when kids sit too close, and Auto Power Saving Mode dims the screen when nobody is watching.

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Zoom’s new AI tools will let you ditch meetings for good | Digital Trends

Zoom’s new AI tools will let you ditch meetings for good | Digital Trends

Zoom has introduced its own AI-inundated offerings, which are intended to help you keep up to date with business information within the videoconferencing app.

The first feature of the new service, called Zoom IQ will assist you with summarizing Zoom meeting conversations that took place in your absence. You can access these summaries through the Zoom Team Chat or email without having to initiate any kind of recording. Hosts of the meeting also receive an overall summary for sharing with the group, or for record keeping.

The second feature allows you to use AI to generate messages within Zoom. It helps you develop your tone, grammar, and overall appropriate speech for communicating in an online business setting.

Zoom IQ is essentially the brand’s version of AI business offerings that have already been introduced by competitors such as features integrated into Microsoft Teams and Google Meet,

The brand noted that its service is a blend of its own proprietary LLMs and language models such as those from companies like OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT.

A woman on a Zoom call.
Zoom

In addition to the two introductory features, Zoom IQ will eventually have five additional features coming soon, including a generative tool for emails, chat thread summaries, and whiteboard prompts and development. Zoom is also planning even more features for the coming months.

The first two features are now being launched as a free trial with Zoom IQ, but the brand has not shared any further pricing information.

The service will be available through Zoom One packages for Enterprise Plus, Enterprise, Business Plus, Business, and Pro plans, as well as various legacy bundles, including Enterprise Named Host, Enterprise Active Host, Zoom Meetings Enterprise, Zoom Meetings Business, and Zoom Meetings Pro.

Zoom hinted in early November 2022 at its plans to introduce and expand new productivity features to compete with Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, such as Team Chat, Whiteboard, and Meetings options among others. Zoom IQ looks like the first step in that process, as it races to catch up with AI tools of its own.

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