Zoom Announces Voice at Zoomtopia (and so much more!)
Zoom delivers exciting updates at Zoomtopia 2018
The annual user conference event “Zoomtopia” delivered a lot more than anyone had bargained for this year. Zoom, one of the leaders in video communications, announced a wide variety of incredible updates, including the delivery of a new Zoom developer marketplace, and the upcoming “Zoom Voice” feature.
Zoom has seen some phenomenal growth in the last couple of years, with consistent year-on-year triple-digit revenue growth, as well as growth in the UK and Ireland from 2017 to 2018 of around 275% in revenues and almost 150% in customer base, while analysts have continued to commend the brand for its intuitive and innovative product.
Now, Zoom is continuing to accelerate its position in the marketplace with the arrival of new features. Although Zoom will remain a video-first platform, users will soon be able to enjoy a cloud PBX, alongside countless other features intended to complete the Zoom portfolio.
Introducing an Incredible Zoomtopia
I caught up with Nitasha Walia, the Senior Product Manager at Zoom to discuss the most significant announcements from the Zoomtopia event.
“This our second Zoomtopia so far. The last one was a huge success, with over one thousand attendees, and this year, we had an opportunity to announce even more exciting features.”
Nitasha told me that while many new things are coming to the Zoom platform in the following months, the brand has focused specifically on four key pillars:
- Usability improvements intended to make the user interface more comfortable for all customers
- Deeper partnerships with hardware vendors to create an all-in-one zoom appliance. Zoom isn’t going to start building hardware, but they will be working with vendors to help create hardware that’s already pre-loaded with Zoom features
- Zoom marketplace – an environment where developers can build and deliver their applications using APIs and SDKs, then market those apps to their customers
- Zoom Voice – the most exciting new feature to the Zoom portfolio, intended for people who want to escalate a conversation beyond an instant messaging chat, without accessing video
Tell Us About the Usability Improvements
One of the most exciting features of the UI updates for Zoom comes in the form of their AI-enhanced virtual background solution. In the past, Zoom delivered a virtual platform environment where people could transform their call settings if they had a green screen available to them.
“Of course, a lot of our customers didn’t have access to a green screen, particularly when they were on-the-go. Now we’re announcing virtual backgrounds that use AI to detect people, and their outlines, and replace the background intelligently for them.”
Nitasha also told me that Zoom is also looking for ways to make the lives of IT admins easier, by enhancing security.
“We’re announcing this exciting security feature called ‘audio signature.’ It works by embedding each VoIP user’s credentials into their audio track, so if someone leaks information from a meeting, you know where that leak came from.”
Zoom will also be delivering a host of additional UI updates, including headset controls, increased capacity for up to 200 video participants in a call, and more. It’s an all-around upgrade to the Zoom experience.
Tell Us About the New Hardware Partnerships
Zoom’s new hardware partnerships come from the company’s desire to create an “all-in-one” experience for their customers. Nitasha told me that Zoom is already working with a lot of different vendors to create something that they can embed into their hardware solutions. This allows Zoom to create a consistent application experience across multiple devices.
“Customers with all-in-one appliances can create Zoom Rooms according to the specs that they prefer, or they can simply buy a single device that’s pre-loaded with the Zoom Rooms applications. It means that users can have as few or as many choices as they want.”
Already, companies like Dell, Crestron, Aver, DisplayTen, Logitech, and more have created devices that already have native Zoom Room integrations installed, making it easier to deploy and manage the perfect Zoom environments.
Tell Us About the App Marketplace
Another big update to the Zoom experience comes in the form of the updated App marketplace. Up until now, Zoom has had a marketplace and plenty of opportunities for developers who want to take advantage of their APIs and SDKs. However, as Nitasha told me:
“What we didn’t have was a platform that would allow both developers to create new applications, and customers to find the applications that work for them. Now, there’s going to be a unified place where developers can experiment and publish their applications, and customers can search for the apps they want to add.”
The new Zoom marketplace includes options to search through multiple solutions according to industry verticals like Productivity, Scheduling, Assistants, Unified Log-in and more. All of the apps in the Zoom marketplace will be fully vetted by Zoom to ensure the best possible user experience and security.
Tell Us about Zoom Voice
For me, the Zoom Voice announcement was the most exciting update to come from Zoomtopia this year. Zoom Voice is a cloud phone solution that will be available as an extra to the Zoom video communications suite. The cloud PBX supports inbound and outbound calling through the PSTN, and the seamlessly integrated telephony features mean that customers can consolidate all of their collaboration and communication services into Zoom. Zoom Voice is set to be available for North America in the early quarter of 2019, with support for additional countries coming out throughout 2019.
“Earlier this year, we launched integrations with existing PBX providers. So, if you had Avaya or something like that, you could use Zoom as the soft client for routing your calls. However, our customers wanted us to help them consolidate their experience further by ensuring that they could just use Zoom for all their communication needs. We took that feedback and created the Zoom Voice platform.”
With Zoom Voice, it’s easy to make the switch from instant messaging, to voice, and video. “We’re completing the stack of asynchronous communication, so you have the freedom to go between tools as you choose.” The Zoom Voice PBX uses Zoom as the phone service provider, so there’s no need to sign up with an additional carrier to use it.