Zoom Expands Communications Platform With End-to-End Features

Platform enhancements announced at Zoom's recent Zoomtopia 2018 conference include a new cloud phone system and application marketplace, among others.

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Zoom, whose cloud-based audio-visual conference app is gaining traction in its sector against such established powers as Webex and Skype, has expanded its product suite to include cloud PBX, cross-platform workflows and enterprise conference rooms.

Platform enhancements announced at its recent Zoomtopia 2018 conference in San Jose include:

Zoom Voice: Zoom Voice is a cloud phone system that will be available as an add-on to Zoom’s video communications suite. Support for inbound and outbound calling through the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and seamlessly integrated traditional telephony features will enable customers to replace their existing PBX solution and consolidate all of their business communication and collaboration requirements into their favorite video service. Zoom Voice will be generally available for North American customers in the first quarter of 2019 with support for localized telephony services in 16 countries. The service will roll out globally during 2019.

App Marketplace: Zoom’s rich set of APIs and cross-platform SDKs power more than 100 million API engagements per month. Now,Zoom’s App Marketplace brings together these integrations built by Zoom and third-party developers, making it easy for customers and developers to extend Zoom’s product portfolio with new functionalities. The marketplace includes a multitude of categories including Assistants, Productivity, Scheduling, and Unified Log-In. Apps in Zoom’s marketplace are fully vetted by Zoom for security and user experience. The marketplace features apps and bots from companies such as Clara Labs, Egnyte, HubSpot, Hugo, Microsoft Teams, Otter.ai, Slack, and Theta Lake.

Zoom Rooms: Zoom Rooms, the software-based conference room solution, features video, audio, and wireless content sharing, as well as value-added services Digital Signage and Scheduling Display. New to Zoom Rooms:

  • Hardware Device Partnerships: AVer, Crestron, Dell, DTEN, Logitech, Polycom, and Suirui have co-developed with Zoom devices that feature deep Zoom Rooms integrations, making it easier for customers to deploy and manage their Zoom Rooms hardware by reducing the number of components needed. These devices will be available in kits, all-in-one devices, or individual components through several distributors such as Ingram Micro Inc., Starin, and Tech Data – Maverick AV Solutions; resellers CDW, Think Fast Track, and VideoConferenceGear.com; or the hardware providers themselves. Availability varies by provider, some of whom are taking orders in the Zoomtopia expo hall.
  • Zoom Rooms Multi-Share: Multiple users in a Zoom Room can now simultaneously share content on displays, making for a richer, more seamless collaboration experience. On the Zoom Rooms Controller, users can manage how the content is distributed across the room’s displays. Now available.
  • Zoom Audio Processing: Zoom is moving audio processing from hardware devices to its Zoom Rooms software, providing the ability for iterative audio enhancements through machine learning. With Zoom Audio Processing, each microphone’s audio stream is received individually and mixed in real-time, enhancing the active speaker’s audio with echo cancellation and noise suppression. This capability is available on select microphones today, and will be expanded to support microphone arrays on hardware devices from providers such as Aver, DTEN, and Suirui.
  • Enterprise Management: Available now, Zoom has released enhancements that will help IT managers better mass deploy, troubleshoot, and proactively monitor their Zoom Rooms. The release includes remote Zoom Rooms rebooting, automatic optimization of Mac and Windows OS settings during installation, Windows MSI installer for mass deployment on Windows, and OAuth support for Office 365 calendar integration.
  • Zoom Rooms Meeting Start on Mobile: With proximity detection, users will be able to start a Zoom Rooms meeting by clicking a button on their Zoom mobile app. This is the perfect solution for hosting ad-hoc meetings from your conference room. Mobile support will release by the end of 2018, desktop support during 2019.
  • Digital Signage Enhancements: Digital Signage administrators now have more control over how they deliver content, with the ability to schedule content in advance and upload video files directly to their content library (supports .mp4, .wmv, .avi, and .mov files).

User Experience Enhancements

Zoom also is offering several new enhancements to its core video platform to maximize user experience, flexibility and security that include:

  • Increase Default (Basic/Free and Above) Capacity to 200 Video Participants: Accounts currently using Large Meeting 200 will be automatically upgraded to Large Meeting 500 at no additional cost. Available by the end of 2018.
  • Virtual Backgrounds: Zoom is improving its virtual backgrounds to work without a green screen. Available now on iPhone 8 or later and available on desktop by the end of 2018.
  • Audio Signature: When enabled, this security feature embeds each VoIP user’s credentials/identity into their unique audio track. If a participant leaks the audio from your meeting, it can be traced back to them. Becomes available by the end of 2018.
  • Headset Controls: Users can control their Zoom meetings via their headset - including join, leave, mute, unmute, and volume. Now available for some Jabra and Plantronics headset models; more models and providers to follow.

Seven-year-old Zoom has added more than 230 improvements to its platform in the last two years. For more information, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...