Microsoft Build 2022:  Azure Communication Services updates to build faster and reach further
Published May 24 2022 08:48 AM 9,788 Views
Microsoft

Over the past year we’ve seen a growing number of companies across a variety of industries using Azure Communication Services to add voice, video, chat, and SMS to their applications – meeting business needs and improving customer experiences.  Laerdal Medical uses our platform to stream video calls during CPR training to provide feedback on performance – reducing errors and saving lives. LinkedIn added Azure Communication Services to offer an easy way for members to create video meetings across their Web sites and mobile apps. And many other organizations in healthcare, banking, and public service are developing experiences to connect to their customers using Azure Communication Services.

 

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LinkedIn gives members fast, convenient video meetings powered by Azure Communication Services

 

In recent months we’ve been responding to customer feedback and market demand, releasing the Azure Communication Services open-source UI SDK and a Figma Design Kit, both of which enable developers to design and build apps that help people communicate the way that they want, from any device. 

 

This week at Microsoft Build we are building on the momentum we established last November at Microsoft Ignite, where we announced Azure Communication Services interoperability for Microsoft Teams. With this additional capability you can build an entirely custom application that joins Teams meetings, Teams chat threads, and uses Teams phone plans. We are committed to helping developers be more productive and businesses more successful by making it easy to deliver custom apps with voice, video, and chat communication without any friction that can come from connecting users on different platforms.

 

Today we’re delivering on this mission by announcing new capabilities and tools:

  • Public Preview of new REST APIs and SDKs for sending Email
  • Azure Communication Services Sample Builder, a new tool in the Azure portal backed by open-source samples that helps you configure and deploy a virtual visit sample app. This pairs with a new feature in Microsoft 365 Bookings to schedule virtual visits and launch end-users into your custom Azure Communication Services app.
  • General availability of the ACS Mobile UI SDK for iOS and Android native apps, joining the existing UI SDK for Web React apps and Figma Design kit.
  • Ability to directly obtain phone numbers from Azure in Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden.
  • Public Preview of new Power Virtual Agent ability to operate voice bots using Azure Communication Services phone numbers and telephony channel.
  • Availability of Azure Communication Services voice, video calling, and messaging capabilities in the US Government Cloud.

 

Below we've shared a bit more information about these releases. 

 

 

Reach more customers on any device or platform.

Azure Communication Services already delivers SDKs and APIs for voice, video, chat, and SMS, in multiple regions across the Azure cloud. But we’re hard at work adding new types of communication and broader global availability of our services so you know that your apps built on Azure Communication Services will reach your customers no matter where they are or how they communicate.

 

 

Email APIs

Azure Communication Service now has new Email APIs in public preview that enable application-to-person (A2P) communication. These emails could be a reminder email for an upcoming virtual visit with a healthcare provider, or notifications to customers of a sales promotion, or any other event that uses email as a communication channel. Like other Azure Communication Service APIs, the Email capability is auto-scaling, multi-region, and you only pay for what you use. Key features of email include:

 

  • Simple REST APIs and SDKs with quick starts and samples for easy on-boarding.
  • High volume sending support for A2P (Application to Person) use cases such as appointment reminders, alerts, and notifications for multi-factor authentication or password reset.
  • Custom domain support to enable emails to send from email domains that are verified by your Domain Providers.
  • Reliable Delivery status on emails sent from your application in near real-time.
  • Security and compliance features to meet your data handling and privacy requirements.

 

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Phone Numbers in new regions – Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden

Voice calling through the traditional telephony network (Public Telephony Switched Network aka PSTN) is critical to how many businesses interact with their customers: answering questions about products and services, providing technical support, or resolving billing issues. If you need phone numbers, you can acquire United States phone numbers directly from Azure Communication Services (direct offers), or you can bring your own numbers from your own telephony provider with Azure Communication Services Direct Routing.

 

Today we’re announcing that Azure Communication Services direct offers will be available soon in preview for Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden. You’ll be able to purchase toll-free and geographic phone numbers in those countries, helping you build engaging communication experiences to connect to telephony  users worldwide. In addition, the ability to send and receive SMS messages in Canada will also be available in public preview, enabling important customer scenarios such as appointment reminders, multi-factor authentication, and more.

 

 

Mobile UI SDK

Earlier this year we released a Web UI SDK and Figma Design Library. These open-source tools help developers design and deliver beautiful end-user experiences quickly. Of course, many developers are building native mobile experiences, so we’ve released our first GA version of the Mobile UI SDK. Whether you’re shipping Web, Android, or iOS apps: we have the tools and services to help you succeed.

 

 

Take advantage of Microsoft 365 to rapidly deliver virtual visits

Virtual visits are a common scenario where a business hosts a meeting for an external customer or partner through a custom app experience delivering video, audio, and chat communication. Virtual visits occur across industries, but popular examples include a healthcare provider serving patients, or a banking firm helping customers with a mortgage.  As an example, Degussa Bank AG is providing this value to its customers today:

 

"Azure Communication Services (ACS) and other Microsoft 365 components inspired us to develop our Digital Bank-Shop in collaboration with Luware. Luware uses ACS to provide a Teams endpoint in our Digital Bank-Shop: Our customers from all over the country can see the presence status of their bank advisor and start a video or voice call."

 

Axel Schardt, Lead Skill & Service Level Management at Degussa Bank AG

 

 

Sample Builder

To make it quicker to design and deploy a sample app for virtual visits, we’ve released the Azure Communication Services sample app builder:  a visual wizard in the Azure Portal that allows you to customize and deploy a virtual visits solution in just a few minutes.

 

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Azure Communication Services sample app builder wizard on the Azure Portal

 

The solution provides a consumer experience for customers scheduling and joining virtual appointments over a Web app, with providers joining over Microsoft Teams. The Web app configured is deployed seamlessly to an Azure subscription and is fully open source.

 

Scheduling virtual visits with Microsoft Bookings

The sample app builder creates a virtual visits prototype that leverages Microsoft Bookings to schedule appointments. Bookings and Teams addresses many essential uses cases: configuring staff availability, deploying a calendar for end-users, and driving appointment reminders. Although you can build custom scheduling experiences, by taking advantage of Bookings and Teams you can dramatically reduce the complexity of your custom app development.

 

While previously Bookings only supported launching consumers into Teams, now you can configure Bookings to launch external consumers into your own custom app built with Azure Communication Services. This gives you additional freedom to pick and choose the parts of Microsoft 365 that you want to keep and those that you want to replace with custom Azure components.

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The sample app offers Microsoft Bookings integration and calling capabilities to join meetings with Teams users from a custom Web app

 

Below is the overall flow of a virtual visits application that combines Bookings with a custom Azure app for end-users.

 
 

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Build trust with communication services in US Gov Cloud 

Delivering cloud services for government customers is a critical priority for Microsoft and helps us improve security for commercial customers as well. Azure Communication Services is now available in public preview in the Azure US Government Cloud, which gives applicable customers unique features such as:

 

  • Personal data is logically separated from customer content in the commercial Azure cloud.
  • Your content contained in Azure Communication Services resources is stored within the United States.
  • Access to your content is restricted to screened Microsoft personnel.
  • Azure Communication Services complies with certifications and accreditations that are required for US Public Sector customers.

 

Where you can learn more

At Build 2022 we have prepared great content for you so you can learn more about these announcements and get started. Join us in the following Build sessions and feel free to share any comments and questions with us:

 

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We’re excited to see so many customers thinking creatively about how best to add voice, video, chat, SMS, and now Email to their apps, and we’re committed to delivering the APIs and SDKs to help them be successful.

 

Don’t forget to check out our developer documentation to dig deeper and get started. Hit us up in the comments and Microsoft Q&A if you have additional questions about building apps.

 

We can't wait to see what you will create and look forward to seeing you virtually at Microsoft Build 2022!

 

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