Zoom—the simple, straightforward video platform we all came to know over the last few years—now wants to expand its reach by adding email and “coworking,” too.
Yes, you heard that right. Now in addition to Microsoft Office / Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and the dozens of other various services we use to share information (and forget where that particular, necessary bit of information was shared), Zoom wants in on the mix.
It’s all part of Zoom One, the centralized Zoom service that already offers chat services, a shared whiteboard, dedicated chat rooms, and more. Zoom said Tuesday that it’s combining both in-meeting chats as well as “offline” chats into a single chat interface.
Zoom Spots, meanwhile, sounds very much like a perpetual Zoom call. “Coming in early 2023, Zoom Spots is Zoom’s virtual coworking space,” the company said in a blog post accompanying Zoomtopia 2022, its annual conference. “It is designed to foster inclusive discussions, bringing the fluid interactions of in-person work to distributed, hybrid teams throughout their work day. Zoom Spots replicates the ‘working alongside’ aspect of an open office for workers and encourages free-form video-first conversations.”
Zoom’s concept art of Zoom Spots, below, is very bare-bones, with no indication that you can actually ever leave the Zoom Spot. (Clarification: A Zoom representative says that you can indeed leave Zoom Spots. It’s not clear, however, whether your work culture will encourage this.) You can turn off your mic and camera, but sometimes the whole point of working is to be able to tune out co-workers, focus on the task at hand, and get things done. It’s not clear that Zoom understands this.
Fortunately it’s not quite as bad as it all sounds. While Zoom is adding Zoom Mail and Zoom Calendar—apps that would seemingly replicate apps you already use—Zoom isn’t saying that you have to use its own email services. (Although if you do, Zoom will encrypt the email from end to end, providing additional security.) This means that there’s at least hope that you’ll be able to continue using your own existing email services and simply use the Zoom Mail and Calendar apps to sync data that is processed elsewhere.
The challenge, however, is that as more services beef up their office suites, making them “stickier,” it can become trickier to monitor and hunt down a particular piece of information. That may not be a concern to Zoom. But as a user, how many more apps do we need that try and do it all?
This story has been clarified to note that you can exit the Zoom Spots feature.