After baiting users with ‘voice calling is coming very, very soon’, Slack has finally rolled out the feature less than a day later. Now while using Slack, you can either privately call someone, or create a channel that can be joined by multiple people for a conference.
The addition, which was by far the most requested feature on Slack, is meant to replace its integrations with voice calling apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Bluejeans, which required a separate installation and being third party, weren’t able to provide a seamless experience.
The feature has rolled out to less than 50 percent users as of now and team admins will need to enable it before it can be used by others.
To call someone, make sure that you have the latest version of Slack installed and ask your team admin to enable calls — or do it yourself by going to settings in case you are the team admin.
Once there, things are pretty much like Skype. You can tap the phone icon to call someone and they will get a pop-up that request them to answer. The only notable difference is that unlike Skype, you can set your microphone settings while in call.
Another nifty little feature Slack has added is the smileys. Smileys, which appear over your face on the top right corner while in-call, let you tell people how you are feeling, without ever having to interrupt them. They say something you like, you can just send a smiling face. Simple!
Speaking on the topic, April Underwood, VP Product 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, and why we’re already seeing great usage of third-party apps that offer calling options.
For customers who already use services like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Bluejeans, it’s easy to initiate a variety of calling features from within slack, but for customers who need a simple solution for voice calls with members of their Slack team, this new feature will make Slack more useful.
We’re looking forward hearing feedback from customers testing the beta, and are eager to get this feature in the hands of customers in our Slack mobile apps soon. Platform thinking is in our DNA, and we’re actively exploring ways to integrate third party services, like calls, more deeply into our product.
The feature is a worthy addition and will upgrade Slack’s status from being merely a text chat tool to being a full communication package. The platform, which is widely used by businesses will now be able to offer employees the facility to call and discuss stuff — and if a boss wants to tell his subordinates off, well, won’t shouting over slack beat texting?
So what’s next? While the company is focussing on a proper roll out of Voice call, it has video calls next on its agenda. The roadmap for the same has already been prepared and work in the direction could begin very soon.
With video and voice call destinations, Slack’s simple, minimalistic approach to conversation would certainly appeal to businesses and help it compete against others including Skype, hangouts etc. and strengthen it’s position against the vaunted Facebook for Work, which is slated for a year end release.