There really isn’t a “Zoom for VR” yet, despite many companies aiming for it. The mainstream work tools most people use haven’t made the leap. Facebook, which is trying to push its entire company into the metaverse, doesn’t have one yet. Meanwhile, Microsoft is finally pushing Teams into a VR/AR-bridged tool that’s arriving, in beta form, in the first half of 2022.
The cross-device upgrade for laptops, phones, VR and Microsoft’s Hololens headsets makes its avatars the central focus, along with a set of immersive meeting spaces that will fold in Microsoft Office 365 apps and services. It sounds like it could be, in some ways, like what Facebook’s Horizon Workrooms has attempted to be for virtual work meetings.
Microsoft Teams started getting reimagined during the pandemic: a 2020 experimental add-on called Together Mode rearranged participants into classrooms and auditoriums, something like a translation of the spirit of VR into a 2D video conferencing app. The improvements were made quickly, based on a realization on Microsoft’s part that the world wasn’t going to be spending most of its time in VR headsets doing remote work anytime soon and that Zoom fatigue remains very real.
Microsoft’s next step in Teams is taking those avatars and opening up more control for people over their over personal image and identity. The avatars will work in Teams’ 2D modes as an alternative to showing your real face on-camera, but they can express reactions and emotions. They’ll also work in 3D immersive spaces that will cross between VR, AR and 2D screens.
Nicole Herskowitz, Microsoft Teams’ GM, told CNET that the company’s research via its internal Human Factors Lab finds found 85% of people using avatars felt either “very or somewhat present” in meetings and also felt that 75% of other people using avatars seemed either “very or somewhat present.” That encouraged Microsoft to think that avatars could be realistic stand-ins for group meetings, instead of the current either/or options of having a camera either on or off. The first version of the avatars will be animated by AI that interprets voice cues, but will lean on cameras and hand tracking after that. Microsoft suggests that VR and AR headsets with more cameras and movement sensors could also help animate more expressive avatars as the Teams app evolves.
The avatars aren’t the same as the ones Microsoft already uses in VR on Altspace VR, though: these avatars look a little more lifelike, less overtly cartoonish, but still clearly not at all photorealistic. The immersive spaces available when the preview launches next year will be a limited set, but businesses could potentially build out their own virtual office environments eventually.
Microsoft points to an early partner, Accenture, as an example of where their vision is going. Accenture has a VR-capable set of virtual meeting spaces for remote workers to log into, which double as company meeting spots and attempts at more casual virtual spaces, like home versions of office lounge rooms.
Microsoft unveiled its cross-device Mesh platform for AR, VR, mobile and PCs earlier this year, which aims to be exactly the bridge between headsets, phones and laptops that Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse-focused Meta company is also aiming for, and where companies like Apple might soon start making moves. Cross-device and avatar-focused communication will be a hot topic for a lot of companies over the next year, as visions for a common metaverse start standing in for where traditional VR/AR conversations were previously happening.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Whether you want one for yourself or for the bookworm in your life, now is the perfect time to buy a Kindle e-reader. They’re one of the most popular items for shoppers to buy on Black Friday, often seeing the best prices available all year — Prime Day aside.
The versatile devices make it easy to carry a library of reading around in the form of a small tablet. From the budget-friendly original Kindle to the full-featured Kindle Oasis, you’re sure to find the right model for you, at a sweet price. Find the best deals below, or check out our guide to the best e-readers to learn more about which is right for you.
Amazon revolutionized the e-reader with the Kindle Oasis’ daring design, great page-turn buttons, sharp screen, and giant ebook library. After extensive testing, it’s our pick for the best overall e-reader.
The Kindle Kids Edition was designed for kids to have access to thousands of books to read without distractions like games. It comes with a two-year warranty and a one year free subscription to Amazon Kids+. For $60, you can save 45% on the Kindle Kids Edition from Amazon.
Kindle is Amazon’s collection of tablet-like ebook readers. It’s also an app that lets you read ebooks from your phone or any other type of tablet. Supplementing the devices and app is Kindle Unlimited, a monthly membership that gives you unlimited access to more books than you can count.
As of right now, there are three different Kindle models to choose from. The high-end and full-featured Kindle Oasis, the mid-range Kindle Paperwhite, and the budget-friendly Kindle.
The Oasis is our pick for the best overall e-reader; it’s bright, waterproof, designed with page-turning buttons, and it has the biggest screen. The Kindle Paperwhite is a bit cheaper but still offers a sharp screen, long battery life, and lightweight design. If you want the cheapest Kindle available, the basic model is a solid choice with its long battery life and front light — but it’s not waterproof.
What is Kindle Unlimited?
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service grants you access to over a million ebooks for a low monthly fee. It’s a solid investment for avid and adventurous readers. You can even try 30 days free before buying.
As a Deals Reporter for Insider’s Reviews team, Sarah sifts through the depths of the internet to surface only the best of deals for our readers. Prior to joining Insider Inc., she was a Deals Writer at Wirecutter, a New York Times company. After graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in Marketing, Sarah started out as a Freelance Deals Writer at Wirecutter; here she focused on newsletter creation, social media promotion, and syndication in addition to deals writing before stepping into a full-time role. Her accomplishments from this position, in addition to the countless deals she’s written, include implementing multiple social media marketing campaigns and launching a Deals Facebook group for the company. Say hi (or send a picture of your pet) to Sarah at email@example.com, or reach her on Twitter at @LordPonty or on Instagram at @lord_ponty. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Learn more about how we research deals.
Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt.
We may receive commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.
Listen up! Walmart has slashed prices on high-quality headphones and earbuds from brands like Beats, Samsung and Sony this Black Friday, with savings of up to $175! Pair those with the tablets that are also on sale, and you could afford to give someone’s tech setup a serious upgrade this holiday season.
Of course, you can save even more if you’re a Walmart+ member. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 15-day trial here, and a quick three-question survey will tack on an additional two more weeks for a solid 30 days of use. (And by the way, those without Walmart+ still get free shipping on orders of $35 or more.)
Bold design and comfortable fit: Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones are now just $125, down (waaay down) from $300. Fast Fuel technology gives you three hours of play time with just a five-minute charge and a total of 40 hours of battery life on a complete charge. Simply power on and hold them near your iPhone to simultaneously connect them to your Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac for a seamless listening experience throughout your digital space.
Beats Solo3 feature comfort-cushioned ear cups made for everyday use and fold up for easy portability. Rock these wireless headphones and save $175 while you’re at it.
Sleek and powerful, the Galaxy Tab A 8″ Tablet lets you browse the web, watch your favorite shows and movies, play games and more on a machine that’s lightweight and comfortable in your hands. With a long-lasting battery and expandable memory, the Galaxy Tab A 8.0″ is built to keep up with you.
It’s got a binge-ready battery, so you can watch your favorite shows for up to 13 hours on a full charge. One fan raved: “It’s a tablet that definitely hits way above its weight class. As soon as I took it out of the box, I fell in love with the device.” And at $99, you will too.
Enjoy high quality sound for up to 18 hours at a time (thanks to the wireless charging case) with Sony Truly Wireless Headphones. Ergonomic for a secure fit, you can keep moving to the music through rain, sleet or sweat.
These buds are also voice-assistant–compatible: A simple press of the button will allow you to get directions, play music or chat with friends. Low audio latency makes for enjoyable video viewing, too. Score these bud-dies for just $130 now.
PC power with tablet mobility: the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 will allow you to get work — or goofing off — done from anywhere. A fast-charging USB-C port will keep you powered up while on the move. This tablet comes complete with a redesigned, minimal-lag S Pen that lets you control a presentation or mark up documents and an expanded edge-to-edge screen for a better streaming, gaming and video-chatting experience.
Five star reviewers love its light weight, rave about the size, and say it has surprisingly great sound quality. At $150 off, this tablet may just be the upgrade you need for your work-from-anywhere setup.
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ deliver rich sound from a small package. Selectively tune in or out environmental noise, so you can stay in the zone on a phone call or get lost in your favorite playlist. Switch on Ambient Aware to hear flight announcements, oncoming traffic or your takeout-order number while still enjoying your tunes or podcast.
Get up to 11 hours of nonstop music on a single charge, then pop your Galaxy Buds+ into the wireless charging case. Forgot to charge them the night before? Not to worry: Three minutes of charging gives you one hour of runtime, so you’ll have enough juice for your commute or a workout. Customization and comfort for $79? That’s what we like to hear.
Make learning fun and keep kids occupied on rainy days or long car rides with the Contixo 7″ Kids Bluetooth Tablet for Kids. This tablet comes with more than 20 educator-approved academic apps covering math, reading, writing, coding, music, problem-solving and creativity skills. And with 32GB of onboard storage and up to 128GB of added storage, it has plenty of room for cartoons, videos and e-books as well. Get up to 10 hours of battery power on a single charge.
The parental-control feature allows you to customize profiles for kids’ accounts, hand-pick content for them, control screen time and monitor browsing. These security settings can be adjusted as little ones grow to ensure the content is tailored to their age. Score a savings of over 40 percent now.
Seamlessly shift between Zoom meetings to streaming your favorite shows with the nimble HP Stream Laptop. At less than four pounds, this notebook contains a 14-inch diagonal HD BrightView display, a dual-core Intel Celeron processor, 4 GB SD RAM and a 64 GB Embedded Multi-Media Card.
Powerful Intel UHD graphics let you stream 4K content and play your favorite games in 720p, while the HP Webcam with integrated digital microphone makes video chats clear and smooth. Plus, you’ll enjoy full access to Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, and 60 Skype minutes each month for a year. At $219, this laptop makes a perfect tech companion for work or school.
Apple will launch an augmented-reality headset in the fourth quarter of 2022, and could sell more than a billion of the new devices over the next 10 years, one analyst asserted in a research note Friday.
The prediction comes from TFI Asset Management analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often has detailed calls on future Apple (ticker: AAPL) hardware products. This is not the first time Kuo has discussed Apple’s design on the AR market, but his latest note contains new details on Apple’s design and strategy for the potential new device.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.