Big UC News from Microsoft, Google, Apple and Slack

Big UC News from Microsoft, Google, Apple and Slack

Google Exec Says Microsoft Concession is ‘Too Little, Too Late as EU Continues Antitrust Probe, Teams AI Library to Launch Next Month

A Google executive has described Microsoft’s concession to unbundle Teams from its Office suite as “too little, too late”.

Google executive Amit Zavery, Vice President, General Manager and Head of Platform at Google Cloud, spoke to The Register about why he maintained the unbundling offer wouldn’t work. Zavery highlighted that it would only apply to the European Economic Area:

I don’t even know how Microsoft can justify this. The funny part to me, as a vendor, is to be able to say [to a customer with a] straight face, ‘You know what, we’ll do this for this particular country or region, and it’s the same issue for the rest of the world, but we will not do it for the rest of the world’… What’s the reason for that?”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported this week that the European Commission will continue its antitrust investigation of Microsoft’s bundling of the two products after considering the concession insufficient. The regulatory body is preparing a statement of objections to send to Microsoft, which will likely come in the next few months.

In other Teams news this week, the platform is launching its AI library next month to allow developers to build AI-powered tools and improve worker productivity.

The library is a suite of code functionalities to help integrate large language models (LLMs) into Teams, enabling developers to build sophisticated conversational Teams apps. The Teams AI library will also include features for producing bots, message extensions and adaptive cards to aid in the integration of LLMs. This means developers can leverage the latest updates to AI to enhance their app functionality.

Google Reportedly Near Release of GPT-4 Competitor, Gemini

Google is allegedly nearing the release of its GPT-4 competitor LLM, Gemini.

As first reported by The Information, Google has provided a small group of businesses access to an early version of Gemini, indicating it could meet its mooted December 2023 release date.

Gemini is billed as Google’s flagship AI and a competitor with OpenAI’s GPT-4 — the company has claimed that Gemini has five times greater computational power than GPT-4.

While Google’s assertion that Gemini’s computational power dwarfs GPT -4’s remains unsubstantiated for now, the solution has several differentiators that have been confirmed. Gemini was built with multimodal processing in mind. This means it can process images and text, and it has been suggested that it will also be able to generate context-sensitive images and texts in answers to prompts.

Apple TV Transforms Into Meeting Room Device

Apple TV 4K users can now video conference through their device for the first time via FaceTime.

Apple rolled out an update to the operating system that powers Apple TV, tvOS 17. Later in 2023, Apple TVs will also be updated with other video conferencing apps, including Cisco Webex and Zoom, allowing users to engage in high-quality video calls through various platforms.

Bob Borchers, Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, commented:

tvOS 17 transforms the biggest screen in the home with FaceTime and new video conferencing capabilities, giving Apple TV 4K users the ability to easily connect with anyone right from their living room. New features and enhancements make Apple TV simpler to use and even more enjoyable, reinforcing it as the absolute best option in the living room for Apple customers.”

The feature leverages an iPhone or iPad’s Continuity Camera mode, essentially turning them into wireless webcams. By using Continuity Camera, users can launch the FaceTime app on their Apple TV device through the Continuity Camera on their iPhone or iPad. Users can seamlessly transfer ongoing calls from their iPhones or iPads to Apple TV with just a few taps on their handheld device.

Slack CEO: AI Revolution Has Been ‘Amazing’

Slack CEO Lidiane Jones described 2023’s AI moment as “amazing” and emphasised that its access to unstructured data makes its AI capabilities “so powerful”.

Speaking to AFP, Jones was enthusiastic about the power of generative AI to evolve the collaboration business’s services to customers, underlining how its products were already revolutionising workflows internally. She also stressed how Slack’s swathes of newly-released, AI-powered features signify a new age for the company — empowered by Slack’s access to high-quality business data.

“It’s amazing what has happened to the world,” Jones said. “We’ve launched more features in the last nine months than in the several years before(…) We have all of a company’s knowledge on the platform… staff are collaborating across different departments, all of that unstructured data is there. That makes our AI capabilities so powerful because it has so much context.”

Jones also said Slack does not intend to develop its own large language model for now: “We don’t feel we need to reinvent the wheel.” However, she suggested that the company might develop personalised AI agents at some stage in the future.

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