Slack’s desktop app has been revamped in a major update to the user interface. The most notable visual additions are a host of new toolbar options and an in-depth look at your activity history.
However, it’s the additions under the hood that are arguably more exciting. Chief among this is the integration of Slack with Microsoft Teams and Zoom, two of the most popular platforms during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.
Now, you are able to set up and join meetings or calls without ever leaving the Slack infrastructure. With millions of people already using the software to chat with colleagues (whether in the office or not), these new features make it feel like a more complete communication platform.
It’s important to note that Microsoft Teams and Zoom are just the latest in a number of apps designed to work with Slack directly. Among the most useful are Google Drive and Microsoft’s own Outlook email client, so this feels like the logical next step.
Slack is still mooted as a rival to email in some quarters, but it still feels like the two work best together. Email can be reserved for contact with external sources and company-wide announcements, while Slack is more effective for in-house communication.
Why would I use Slack over Microsoft Teams?
While it’s true that Microsoft Teams has a more rich feature set than Slack, there are many functions that targeted plainly at business users. The April rebranding of Office 365 as Microsoft 365 sees it take on a more consumer-focus, making it worth comparing the two for the first time.
However, despite adding some collaborative functions in recent updates, Slack is still very much a communication platform first and foremost. A key illustration of this is a dedicated ‘Files’ tab, which was added in the most recent update for the very first time. Sharing and collaboration on files has been intrinsic to Teams ever since it launched in 2017.
You can now join calls directly from the Slack app. Image: Slack
In truth, the fact that Microsoft allows integration of Teams and a number of its other apps means it doesn’t see Slack as a threat. There is no reason to at the moment, as Teams surpassed Slack in daily active users last July and hasn’t looked back since.
However, despite Teams being free for a number of people during the coronavirus outbreak, most of its features are usually behind a paywall. The free version of Slack offers almost full functionality, with one notable exception in that you’re limited to viewing only 10,000 past messages.
It remains to be seen whether the latest updates will convince consumer-focused teams to stick with or switch to Slack, as a growing number of credible alternatives continue to arise.