Zoom adds silly filters and more noise suppression options

You can now take a meeting with a Midsommar-inspired crown.


Tired of using virtual backgrounds to spice up your Zoom calls? Fear not: the company is adding a bunch of new features to make your meetings and virtual hangouts a little less dreary. These include Instagram-style filters with colorful names like Seafoam and Cinnamon. There will also be some Snapchat-inspired overlays that give you a pirate eyepatch, unicorn horn, Midsommar-esque flowery crown, and more. In addition, the company is adding sliders that give you incremental control over the brightness of your shot and how much the app tries to digitally “touch up” your appearance.

Zoom’s background noise suppression is being subtly updated, too. You’ll soon have four options — auto, low, medium and high — that let you fine tune your audio levels on the call. If you’re telling some ghost stories, for instance, you might want some spooky music playing softly in the background. On a different call, though, you might want high suppression to make sure an important client can’t hear your kids or whatever construction is taking place outside. Rounding out the upgrades is a host of new emoji ‘Reactions,’ including hearts and party poppers, and a picture-in-picture presentation mode that lets people see your face and slides simultaneously.

Zoom's popularity has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, but struggled with privacy issues exposed by users and security experts alike. Back in April, Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan promised to fix these flaws and, through numerous initiatives including a "comprehensive review" with third-party experts, take steps to ensure the situation never repeated itself. Since then, the company has pushed a series of security-focused updates and, after a bit of flip-flopping, promised end-to-end encryption for all users, including those who don't pay a dime. Google, Facebook and others have doubled their efforts to compete with Zoom, but so far the San Jose-based company appears to be holding on to its teleconferencing crown.