Zoom takes on Microsoft Teams with a killer Together Mode rival

Zoom Immersive View
(Image credit: Zoom)

Zoom is launching Immersive View, a new feature for the popular teleconferencing platform that lets users assemble up to 25 meeting participants into one shared virtual background.

It's a fun new feature for Zoom that's a clear response to Microsoft Teams' Together Mode, a very similar feature that debuted last summer. Together Mode allowed Teams users to automatically arrange up to 49 meeting participants in one shared virtual auditorium. 

Despite being plagued by security issues, Zoom emerged as the leading virtual meeting app during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Others, like Microsoft with Teams and Google with its virtual meeting offering, have since struck back at Zoom, so it's interesting to see how the company plays catch-up to features introduced by the competition.

Zoom initially pitched Immersive View last October, a few months after Together Mode launched, and now that it's live, we can see that it works in roughly the same way. Free and individual Zoom users — at least, those using Zoom 5.6.3 or later — should now see the option to enable Immersive View in the top-right corner of their Zoom clients during a meeting.

Enabling Immersive View will give you the option to manually or automatically arrange up to 25 meeting participants in a single shared virtual background, though there are some backgrounds that support fewer people. If there are more participants than there are slots in the virtual background, the remainder will show up in a thin strip of thumbnail-sized videos along the top of the screen.

Zoom Immersive View

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Intriguingly, hosts have the power to create their own virtual backgrounds or even use their own video as a virtual background; they can also move participants' video feeds around the virtual background or resize them, affording them some extra control to make things look natural (or just goof around).

This comes just days after Zoom got a bunch of killer upgrades in a big patch, including expanded emoji support for reactions and a bunch of updates to make Zoom easier and more intuitive to use on mobile devices.

If you're planning to hop back into Zoom to try out the new features and could use a quick refresher on the basics, check out our guides on how to set up a Zoom meeting and how to change your Zoom background. Your personal Zoom background can still show up in some Immersive View setups, so if you need something fresh check out our list of free Zoom backgrounds.

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.