7 news in Zoom that will improve online meetings

“I’ll send you Zoom’s link.” If you received (or sent) such a message by email or WhatsApp, you will like to know that the platform has received some interesting improvements.

Partner with many home office professionals, teachers and students during the pandemic, the video call service made adjustments and included new features that help people with hearing impairments, launched the Zoom Phone Cloud Service for 40 countries, created the High-Fidelity Music Mode (for musicians and artists), in addition to reorganizing the screens.

Over the months, Zoom also suffered from security issues, but made adjustments and added features. Despite the date, it is not a lie. On April 1, the platform committed to making improvements focused on encryption and privacy. A 90-day program was launched and redirected the company towards commitments that were incorporated into the routine. Since then, more resources have also arrived.

Following, words from Eric S. Yuan, Zoom’s CEO:

“During the first months of 2020, the Zoom team worked 24 hours to support the huge flow of new users on the platform. The growing demand on our systems was unlike anything most companies have ever experienced. In late March, Zoom realized that its mission to provide video communications to hundreds of millions of participants in daily meetings and needed to include an equivalent focus on security and privacy. ”

Since then, Zoom has focused on trust, security and privacy.

Follow on the list what changes and how to use each of these novelties in meetings.

  1. More accessibility in Zoom

Some of Zoom’s new features help people with hearing impairments and have been included on the platform with support from organizations developing accessibility features to make Zoom more compatible with A11Y standards.

  • Adjusted design: the team of designers and developers created and perfected the products (although they recognize that Zoom does not reach 100% perfection) in accessibility to make the platform easier to use; this is always welcome.
  • Conformity: the compliance documentation now includes all the details about how these features work and interoperate with other communication tools. The teams adhered to WCAG 2.1 AA (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) recommendations when designing and developing all the latest features.

Shall we go to them?

Keyboard accessibility

According to Zoom, Meeting features are fully accessible via the keyboard. Check the list with Zoom keyboard shortcuts (macOS, Windows, Linux, iPadOS and iOS).

Closed caption

The caption option is available or can be assigned for third-party typing. The size can also be adjusted in the “Accessibility settings”.

Zoom with Closed Caption - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

Screen reader support

Zoom claims that it supports all major screen reader software. If you don’t have a screen reader, you can use the screen reader integrated into your operating system like Windows 10 Narrator or macOS VoiceOver, for example.

Screen reader alerts can be adjusted in the “Accessibility settings”.

Zoom Accessibility - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

Accessing Accessibility Settings

  1. In a meeting, click on the green encryption shield (top left);
  2. Then, on the “Settings” gear icon;
  3. Now click on Accessibility;
  4. There, set the caption size, screen reader alerts and other features.

2. Highlight or pin videos to Zoom

Zoom included what it called a multi-pin and multi-spotlight; I will explain both.

Multi-pin

Multi-pin (fixation) allows you to keep multiple videos fixed on the screen and not just the speaker (or who is currently escaping audio from the microphone). This allows you to disable automatic viewing based on an active speaker and view up to nine specific participants. This affects the recording which starts to record only the fixed videos if you are recording the meeting locally (to your computer).

Screen pin on Zoom - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

Note that pinning up to 9 videos from other participants will only affect your local view and local recordings, never the view of other participants or recordings in the cloud.

This means that, just for your viewing, the speaker and one other person (such as a pound interpreter, for example) remain on the screen without further interruptions.

Multi-spotlight

The multi-spotlight works in a similar way, the difference is that the “pinned” videos are shown to everyone in the meeting (not just for you). The host or co-host can feature up to 9 videos. Very useful for meetings with interpreters and speakers.

Rearrange videos however you want in Zoom

In the gallery view, by default, videos are reordered according to who is currently speaking or raising a hand. If everyone talks, there is confusion.

Organize Screen in Zoom - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

It took, but that changed! You can now drag and organize videos the way you want. Just move the video block into position. And even if people in unselected videos speak into the microphone, it will remain in the order you choose.

3. Fun filters

Not everyone who uses Zoom is dealing with serious or corporate issues – nothing prevents you from using unicorn filters or pirate eye patches at work, too … Filters arrived in a Zoom update. Colors, effects, backgrounds and accessories that make everything more fun, including the happy hour or the “online party”.

Zoom Filters - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

How to use filters in Zoom

  1. In a meeting, click on the green encryption shield (top left);
  2. Then, on the “Settings” gear icon;
  3. Now click on Background and Filters;
  4. There, define whether you want to use “virtual backgrounds” and “video filters” (face or screen);

Another option is to click directly on the arrow next to “Video” and “Video Settings”.

4. Adequate lighting

We are not always in a well-lit place for video conferences. Lighting problems are common on cloudy and darker days or when the virtual meeting takes place in the late afternoon or evening. A zoom update brought a new granular intensity control for “low light” and making touches (not miracles).

Zoom light adjustment - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

You can adjust the light, change the brightness of your panel and even regulate skin smoothing.

How to adjust low light video in Zoom

  1. In a meeting, click on the green encryption shield (top left);
  2. Then, on the “Settings” gear icon;
  3. Now click on Video;
  4. There, define whether you want to use “virtual backgrounds” and “video filters” (face or screen);

Another option is to click directly on the arrow next to “Video” and “Video Settings”.

5. High-Fidelity Music Mode

The Zoom platform already does a job in canceling background noise for when you need to be heard at the Zoom meeting without external interference, like your dog barking during the home office. But, it was still a problem for those who wanted to highlight background audio as music – for remote music and dance classes.

Zoom High Fidelity Music Mode - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

High-Fidelity Music Mode (or High Fidelity Music Mode) is designed to provide professional-grade audio and optimize all types of sound and music use cases that occur in video calls and meetings. For one or more listeners, audio enhances for performing arts and music teachers, composers, etc.

The feature is available for Windows and macOS users, under Audio> Advanced. There, you can change certain settings that will, in practice, do this:

  • Disable echo cancellation and post-processing;
  • Eliminate audio compression;
  • Increase the quality of the audio codec;

Zoom Audio Settings - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

6. Security and Privacy

The company claims to have released more than 100 security and privacy features, many available since the May update, Zoom 5.0; I list some important ones.

256-bit GCM AES encryption

Zoom 5.0 now supports, in addition to the current encryption, GCM encryption with 256-bit keys. Only Zoom customers on version 5.0 or later, including Zoom Rooms, have been able to join a Zoom Meetings meeting since May 30. Therefore, if you have problems with the application, update your software.

Zoom Cryptography - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

And the end to end?

Well, after informing that it would offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) only for paid accounts, Zoom went back and pointed out that it also reaches users of the free version. Protection began to be offered in July, still in beta, but as an option because it limits resources on calls. To enable end-to-end encryption, users must also verify their accounts by text message.

Report a user

Meeting hosts and co-hosts (hosts) can now report a user who is using the Zoom platform inappropriately. The option is on the Security icon and a report will be sent to Zoom’s Trust and Security team for review.

This report can optionally include a specific offense, description and screenshot. The “Report a User” function is enabled by default.

New encryption and security icon

I mentioned the Security icon, this is a new encryption shield that appears in the upper left corner of the window and indicates that this is an encrypted meeting.

Since May, the shield has turned green for everyone. Clicking the icon also takes you to the “Statistics” page for additional details on encryption and data center.

Zoom Security - Image: Playback / Zoom

Enhanced data center information

Meeting owners (hosts) can now select data center regions (data centers) at the meeting scheduling level. Zoom also shows which data center you are connected to via the Information icon in the upper left corner.

To see additional details, select “Video Settings> Statistics” below.

Zoom also affirms that there is a restricted geographical delimitation with regard to China. Among the company’s 19 co-located global data centers, 1 (one) data center is there. This data center is geofencing and is in facilities managed by Australian Telstra. This ensures that user meeting data outside mainland China remains outside for various reasons and does not use the Chinese network.

Option for host to end or leave meetings

The action of ending or leaving a meeting was refined. With subtle changes to the interface, hosts can clearly decide whether to completely end or leave a meeting. And, if the host leaves, you can select a new host with your privileges.

Other additional security improvements in Zoom:

  • Profile image control: account administrators and meeting hosts on Zoom can disable the ability for attendees to show their profile picture and prevent these same files from being changed during a meeting;
  • Minimum password length: the default minimum length for a Zoom password is six characters for meeting, webinar and recording in the cloud; not less than that;
  • Cloud recording security: Account administrators and Zoom meeting hosts can set expiration dates on their recordings in the cloud and can also disable sharing their recordings with other users.

Two-factor authentication in Zoom

It is two-factor authentication (or two-step certification) that identifies online users by requiring them to provide two or more evidences or credentials, which authenticate that the account is really theirs. One is something that the user knows (a password or pin) the other is something that only the user has access (a smart card or mobile device such as a cell phone) or something physical that only the user has (fingerprints or voice).

In Zoom, users have the option of using authentication applications that support the Time-Based One-Time Password (TOTP) protocol such as Google Authenticator or Microsoft Authenticator or request that Zoom send a code by SMS or by phone call, as a second factor in the account authentication process.

In advance, apps are the best choice.

Zoom Security / Two Steps - Image: Playback / Zoom

How to enable two-factor authentication in Zoom

  1. Log in to the Zoom website;
  2. Click on “My Account”, then on Profile;
  3. Access “See advanced features”;
  4. Scroll down the page and find “Two-factor Authentication”;
  5. Activate with your preferred application or by SMS (or call).

Note that, if you are using a Google account, for example, Zoom may consider your login secure (if it has its own two-factor authentication).

Much of it all concerns the acquisition of Keybase, whose team of engineers joined Zoom and started creating end-to-end encryption for all users.

7. Zoom Phone in more than 40 countries

In August, Zoom announced that small and large organizations will be able to order Zoom Phone, a system in the cloud (at a fixed price per user) to simplify global telephony spending and replace PBX solutions, for example. The company started offering international coverage and is present in more than 40 countries in Europe, North America, Latin America (including Brazil) and Asia Pacific.

Zoom Phone - Image: Disclosure / Zoom

Have you used Zoom a lot in the last few months?

Have you seen any other useful changes or do you feel that some feature is still missing?

Leave your tip. 😉

With information: Zoom 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

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