Zoom update includes animal avatars

In Zoom 5.10.0 (released March 21, 2022), we have some new features that instructors and their students might appreciate. This release is a manual download. Get it here.

First, animal avatars. You can find the menu next to virtual backgrounds and video filters. Mouse over each avatar to see what the Zoom developers think it is. I’m pretty sure that what they call a grizzly bear (last one in the second row and first in the third row) is a groundhog.

If you’ve used Zoom’s video filters to, for example, wear a virtual hat or glasses, you’ve experienced Zoom’s facial detection software. They’re using the same technology here, but instead of just virtual glasses that stay on your virtual face, you have an entire animal superimposed on your head. As your head, mouth, eyes, and nose move, so do those of your animal avatar.

Here’s the first million dollar question for all of you instructors who are looking at the blank video screens of your students: If your students could replace their faces with an animal avatar, would they be willing to turn on their webcams? And the second million dollar question: Would you prefer to teach a bunch of animals or blank video screens?

Other features

For those who assign students to the same breakout rooms time after time, when creating the breakout rooms you’ll be asked if you’d like to retain the settings. This is only available for recurring meetings, not for your regular Zoom room.

When students are in breakout rooms, we can share our screen to those breakout rooms, and on that shared screen we can play audio and video. On the share screen page, check the “Share sound,” “Optimize for video clip,” and “Share to breakout rooms” boxes.

You can find the full list of updates here. As a quick note, be aware that when Zoom talks about “Chat features,” they do not meet the in-meeting chat. They mean Zoom Chat. It’s Zoom’s built-in chat functionality that is completely separate from the in-meeting chat.

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