Zoom’s reaction emoji are one of the platform’s most useful features, allowing you to quickly clap back at a co-worker or send a heart to a friend. With the latest update to your desktop applications, Zoom is making a couple of those reactions easier to find. His gesture recognition feature will display a thumbs-up emoji in the meeting when you give one to your webcam, or dial a raised-hand emoji when you raise your hand.
Gesture recognition won’t be news to those using Zoom’s iPad and iPhone apps, which have supported the same two gestures since last summer. And those who have used it know that it can be as frustrating as it is useful. Zoom has a tendency to read “I’m scratching my face” as “I’m putting my hand up” and, at least in my experience, only responds to the most aggressive thumbs up. Still, when it works, it helps Zoom bridge the gap between natural and digital communication, and it’s no surprise the company continues to invest in the idea. I hope one day I can blow kisses to the screen to register a heart emoji.
There are a number of other features in the latest version of Zoom, most notably a big improvement to the zoom board. blackboard has been around for a while as an add-on for a meeting, but is now a separate product within Zoom. Zoom is trying to make it easier to manage meeting rooms and polls, and it’s also running big events on the platform a little more seamlessly. Zoom also continues to roll out its chat etiquette tool, which automatically enforces corporate policies on communications. (Be careful with that, because as we have seen since companies like GoogleAI writing police are often wrong and frequently ridiculous).
The big picture here is that Zoom is doing what platforms tend to do: absorb the best ideas from the rest of the industry, even those built on top of their platform, into their core product. Apps like mmhmm have been exploring gesture recognition for a while, for example, while companies like Miro and Figma have turned digital whiteboards into a surprisingly big industry. Zoom has spent the last few years making noise about being an open platform for developers, but it continues to take the best ideas for itself in an effort to be the primary place we communicate online.