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Microsoft announces developer tools for Teams

Microsoft has introduced tools that let developers manage apps, charge for subscriptions and use audio and video feeds on Teams. Some tools are available today, others in the summer.

Microsoft has announced a slew of development tools for Teams to drive app creation on the collaboration platform. The tools include media APIs, a Visual Studio toolkit and a developer portal.

At this week's Build event, the company said it wants to provide developers with more tools to build hybrid-work apps for Teams. These apps, in turn, will help Microsoft cater to a broader range of users.

Microsoft has put into preview a Teams toolkit for its Visual Studio development software. The company said the kit will reduce the lines of code developers need to leverage Microsoft Azure services within Teams apps. Those services include the Azure Functions serverless computing service and the Microsoft Graph data tool.

Media APIs, expected this summer, will give third-party apps access to Teams' video and audio streams. Microsoft envisions apps using those streams for transcription, note-taking or real-time translation to other languages. IT administrators will have control over what meetings those apps can access, the company said.

Microsoft said the Teams Developer Portal, available now, will help developers configure, distribute and manage apps. The portal lets developers test their apps in Teams, work with colleagues on the apps and see the number of active users of the apps.

Third-party developers can sell subscriptions to their apps directly in the Teams app store, starting this summer. Microsoft said the developers could display what subscription plans are available in the store and give buyers the option of paying by credit card or receiving an invoice.

This summer, Microsoft will also update the Teams Together Mode that makes video conferencing attendees appear as if they're in a meeting room or coffee shop. The update will let developers create custom scenes using a tool in the Developer Portal. With the feature, developers can import PNG images to serve as backgrounds and determine where meeting participants will appear in them. Microsoft expects the update to help developers make meetings more engaging for their users.

Dion Hinchcliffe, an analyst at Constellation Research, said Microsoft prioritized opening up Teams to developers who want access to the software's 145 million daily active users. Also, developers can address more uses for Teams than Microsoft could alone.

Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research, said Microsoft, Cisco and Zoom want developers to make their collaboration products more central to users' workday.

"The long-term winners in the collaboration space are the ones that are successful in making the transition from product to platform," he said.

Creating custom Together Mode scenes
Microsoft will allow developers to create custom Together Mode scenes in Teams.

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 NewsWalpole TimesSharon 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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