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RingCentral plays catch-up with latest video features

RingCentral has introduced overlay and video background features to its video-conferencing product. Soon, the company will add breakout rooms, a highly requested feature.

RingCentral introduced a bevy of new features this week -- including overlay and video background capabilities -- for its homegrown Video app. Analysts said the company is playing catch-up with the more established vendors in the market.

Video's new overlay feature lets users superimpose themselves over presentations, like a forecaster over a TV weather map. Presenters engaging with their material can better capture and hold an audience's attention, RingCentral said.

Virtual backgrounds in RingCentral Video meetings are no longer limited to static images, as video files can serve as backgrounds. The company said the change enables workers to express creativity by using scenes such as a fireplace or waves at the beach, while maintaining the privacy of their homes.

Meeting participants can use a picture-in-picture feature for multitasking within the RingCentral mobile app. The company said the capability lets workers review a chat conversation while in a video meeting or attend to other tasks.

RingCentral plans to launch breakout rooms by the end of the second quarter. The feature lets meeting hosts create small groups of participants for quick collaboration sessions during meetings. When the session ends, the attendees rejoin the larger gathering. Breakout rooms are popular among video conferencing users.

RingCentral Video app
RingCentral recently announced additional features for its RingCentral Video app.

The improvements are not new in the collaboration market. Microsoft, Cisco and Zoom already offer breakout rooms and overlays in their video meeting platforms.

"RingCentral is playing catch-up, and they're doing so in an increasingly crowded, rapidly evolving product category that's filled with very strong and very big players," said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at Technalysis Research.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said the features improve RingCentral Video but don't differentiate the company from the more entrenched players.

"There's really nothing that I currently see that will drive market share away from [Cisco] Webex, [Microsoft] Teams or Zoom," he said.

RingCentral launched its product a year ago. The company had previously partnered with Zoom for video meetings and is in the midst of a legal battle with Zoom regarding their partnership agreement.

Along with the improvements to its video product, RingCentral introduced new capabilities in its team messaging product. The features let workers group together teams and conversations in folders and enables admins to determine which employees can invite guests into a company's RingCentral chatroom.

Mike Gleason is a reporter covering unified communications and collaboration tools. He previously covered communities in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Advocate and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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