Skype, Hangouts Get Rival in Slack

NicoleMotta - March 3, 2016 - 12:06 PM

Skype, Hangouts Get Rival in Slack

This week, Slack announced that voice calls are coming to its messaging apps and rolled out the feature in beta.

In a statement on the new feature, Slack's Vice President of Product, April Underwood, said, "Our mission at Slack is to make people's working lives simpler, more pleasant and more productive. Voice calls are a valuable form of team communication, and so, a natural fit for Slack." According to Underwood, users have already turned to third-party apps and services for calling options including Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts, but now Slack is adding its own Calls option. "If I'm DMing someone in Slack and we want to switch to have a quick voice conversation, it addresses that problem," explained Underwood. The voice calling feature stems from the company's acquisition of screen-sharing app Screenhero last year. At the time, Slack said that it planned to build its messaging apps into more than just a chatroom, adding features like voice and video calls.

For now, the Slack Calls feature is considered a beta feature and is not available on all platforms. Voice calling is limited to Slack's desktop and Chrome apps and must be activated by a Team administrator. According to Slack, the feature has rolled out to less than 50 percent of users. Slack is allowing paid users to start using voice chats with up to 15 people, but those using the service for free are limited to one-on-one voice calls at this time. Slack is looking for feedback on this feature in beta to see how users respond to it, rather than making a big announcement. Voice calling was one of the most requested features from Slack users.

Photo: © iStock.
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