Zoom’s reaction emoji is one of the platform’s most useful features, allowing you to quickly applaud a colleague or send a heart to a friend. Of the latest desktop apps updateZoom makes some of those comments easier to find. The gesture recognition feature shows a thumbs up emoji in the meeting when you give one to your webcam, or highlights a raised hand emoji when you raise your hand.
Gesture recognition won’t be news to those using Zoom’s iPad and iPhone apps, which have been supporting the same two gestures since last summer. And those who have used it know that it can be as frustrating as it is helpful. Zoom tends to read “I’m scratching my face” as “I’m raising my hand,” and in my experience, at least it only responds to the most aggressive thumbs-ups. But when it works, it will help Zoom bridge the gap between natural and digital communications, and unsurprisingly, the company is still investing in the idea. I look forward to being able to blow kisses on the screen one day to register a heart emoji.
There are a number of other features in the latest version of Zoom, most notably a major improvement to the Zoom whiteboard† Whiteboard has been around for a while as an addition to a meeting, but is now a separate product within Zoom. Zoom is trying to make it easier to manage breakout rooms and polls, as well as make major events on the platform a little more seamless. Zoom also continues to roll out its chat etiquette tool, which automatically enforces company policies on communications. (Keep an eye out for that one, because as we’ve seen from companies like Googlethe AI writing police are often wrong and often ridiculous.)
The bigger picture here is that Zoom is doing what platforms usually do: sucking the best ideas from the rest of the industry, even those developed on the platform, into its core product. For example, apps like Mmhmm have been pushing gesture recognition for a while, while companies like Miro and Figma have turned digital whiteboards into a surprisingly large industry. Zoom has made noise in recent years about being an open platform for developers, but continues to use the best ideas for itself in an effort to be the primary place where we interact online.