Zoom released its latest update today, Monday, April 18, 2022. Below, I’ve listed some of the features that I find particularly useful. You can find the full list here. This update is a manual download. The easiest way to get it is to visit the Zoom download page and click the Download button. The installer will download to your computer’s download folder. Run the installer to get the updated version of Zoom.
Polls/Quizzes: New Central Library
For those who use polls/quizzes, you know that the questions you had for your personal meeting room were separate from the questions you had for your other meeting rooms. Good news. When you log into your Zoom.us account, you can create poll/quizzes that will be accessible from either type of Zoom room. As of this writing, only 10 questions can be stored in this central library.
Breakout Rooms: View Activity
For those who use breakout rooms, you can now get a sense of how much is happening in those rooms. In this screenshot, we can see who has their mic and webcams on. When someone is speaking, as the second person is in the screenshot below, the dark bar of their mic bounces up and down.
Here, you can see me screensharing in a breakout room.
This Zoom update was also supposed to show emojis. In our testing, no emojis appeared next to the participant names.
To turn on this feature, log into Zoom.us. Click on Settings, then “In Meeting (Advanced).” Under “Breakout room,” check the box next to “Allow host to view activity statuses…” While you are here, check the box above it, too, if you haven’t already: “Allow host to create, rename, and delete breakout rooms when rooms are open”—not because it’s needed for this feature, but because it’s a handy option to have. Click “Save.” (As I discovered in testing, if you don’t click the save button, the changes to your settings will not be saved. Who knew?)
Enhanced Meeting Reactions
When participants select a meeting reaction emoji, it will appear both in the top left corner of their video screen and at the bottom of their zoom screen. If a participant has turned off self-view (webcam is on, but they cannot see their video), they will still see their selected emoji at the bottom of their Zoom screen.
Chat Preview: Toggle On/Off
If you have the chat window turned off, chat messages will pop up on the bottom of your screen as a chat preview.
When presenting, the chat view can be pretty distracting. We can now quickly toggle it on/off by clicking the up arrow next to “Chat.” Clicking on “Show Chat Previews” will make both the checkmark and chat previews disappear. Click it again to make the previews reappear.
Gesture Recognition: Saving the Best for Last
When gesture recognition is turned on, Zoom will recognize your upraised palm as a hand raise. A little hand raise icon at the bottom of your screen will appear, and the outer circle will cycle from white to blue in about 4 seconds.
The hand raise emoji will appear just as if you had selected it from the emoji menu. You will also get the “lower hand” button at the bottom of the screen.
Participants who have their emoji hand-raise icons activated will have their videos pop to the top left corner of gallery view.
Even with the animal avatars, even though the palm (or hoof in this case) is not displayed, Zoom still detects the hand raise.
The other hand gesture Zoom recognizes (as of this Zoom update) is the thumbs up. There is no timer on the thumbs up gesture. The emoji appears as soon as Zoom detects the raised thumb. This also works with the animal avatars. Keep in mind that the meaning of the thumbs up sign varies by culture. In some locations—such as parts of the Middle East and West Africa—it’s equivalent to giving someone the middle finger. Since I know some of you were hoping for the middle finger gesture, you have my permission to use the thumbs-up gesture with either connotation.
Anyone who wants this kind of power, they need to turn it on. If you’d like your students to use this, they, too, need to turn it on. Run Zoom. Click on the up arrow next to “Stop Video,” and click on “Video Settings.”
In the Settings window, click on “General” (directly above “Video”). Scroll to the bottom. Right below the skin tone menu, click the box next to “Activate the following emojis based on hand gesture recognition ” (In our testing, even after the update, some users did not have this option. We are not sure why. Other users did not have the emoji package installed. On this settings page, they were given the option to install it. After installing the package and clicking the box, their hand gesture recognition was enabled.)
As of this writing, Zoom for computers and supported iPads have hand gesture recognition. Nothing yet for Android or iPhones.