Microsoft Opens Teams To Collaborative Apps That Plug Into Meetings and More

Microsoft logo on flagship store in NYC, 2019

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In a push to get more app developers building for Teams, Microsoft is opening up its APIs, Teams Store, and tools to what it calls collaborative apps. Last year Microsoft first let developers build third-party apps into Teams, but now the company is going a step further with its latest announcement at Build 2021.

Moving forward, developers will have the capacity to:

  • Build apps that plug into the Teams meeting canvas.
  • Build apps that use in-app purchases or subscriptions.
  • Develop external apps that get access to Teams’ real-time video and audio streams.

“If you can build web apps, you can build extensions into Teams chats, channels, and meetings,” explains Jeff Teper, head of Microsoft 365 collaboration, in an interview with The Verge. “You can build once, run, deploy anywhere.”

Any apps built for Teams will work across Windows, Mac, the web, iOS, Android, and even Linux. Microsoft is also enabling developers with greater integration into Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code.

Microsoft’s Together Mode for Teams, a meeting platform which uses AI to segment user’s faces and shoulders and place teams together in a virtual space, will be open to developers as well. “We’re giving people a toolkit so they can design their own Together Modes scenes,” says Teper. “We’re pretty excited to see what people come up with.”
Later this summer, Microsoft will permit third-party apps to access real-time audio and video streams from Teams, primarily allowing for transcription or note-taking apps to process audio and video coming out of Teams, but it will also enable devs to create custom-made apps that access Teams.

“Somebody could build a completely custom application that is different than the Teams UI and that app can interoperate with Teams via voice, video, or chat,” explains Teper. An example could be a hospital that wants to build a connection from their telehealth app into Teams to enable video calls.

Developers will be able to sell their own subscriptions within their Teams apps, opening the Teams Store to in-app purchases. “We may make some money in the marketplace, but our primary business model will be the Microsoft 365 licenses and the Azure and Power platform licenses that developers consume,” says Teper.

With 145 million daily Microsoft Teams users, there certainly could be an intrigue for more apps that plug into and appear inside of Teams meetings. Microsoft has positioned Teams as a hub for productivity, and these latest announcements aim at makingTeams a little more developer-friendly.

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