Slack's Huddles audio chat feature, a popular way to start casual conversations since its launch last year, has seen the fastest adoption of any Slack feature to date, the company says, with millions of users each week. And at its Frontiers conference this week, Slack announced plans to expand group calling functionality with optional video and screen sharing.
"You'll retain that instant, lightweight audio experience of your own that you have today, but you can gradually expand the reach of whatever group you're in," said Rob Seaman, Slack's senior vice president of products, adding that audio. will remain the default option when starting a group call.
In short, Slack Huddles allows users to start an audio meeting with colleagues in channel chats or direct messages by clicking a "headphones" icon in the left sidebar. While that might be enough for some conversations, the new Huddle feature, launching this fall, adds options for users to switch to a video call for up to 50 people at once. It will also be possible to separate the video stream in a separate window to facilitate multitasking or sending messages during a call.
The upcoming screen sharing option will allow two participants to broadcast their desktops to one another during the group call at the same time. Seaman finds group screen sharing useful for product teams meeting briefly via video to consult on different versions of a design, or for sales staff to quickly compare old and new contract proposals.
Slack Huddles will allow users to share screens with other participants.
Slack also adds a persistent message thread to the right side of the meeting screen that allows users to share files and links during a meetup meeting. All messages and interactions are automatically posted and saved to the Slack channel or DM screen from which the huddle was started for later access.
As with audio meetings, video and screen sharing will be accessible through Slack Connect, which means you'll also be able to start video calls and share screens with clients and other external collaborators who also use Slack.
After two years of working remotely, businesses may not exactly suffer from a lack of video and screen sharing options. Slack already has its own native capabilities, as well as plenty of third-party options (this is also an area of focus for rival Microsoft, which recently announced plans to integrate interactive apps into Teams screen sharing).
Access to these features in Slack Huddles lowers the barrier to more casual conversations that don't require a lengthy video call, Seaman said.
"You don't have to worry about going through calendars and finding a space days in advance, or having a 30-minute meeting that feels like it actually has to be 30 minutes," he said. On the other hand, the average length of a meeting call is 10 minutes. "So that's 20 minutes you're apparently saving, as opposed to a 30-minute scheduled meeting."
"People are using social applications that are increasingly audio and video intensive," said Wayne Kurtzman, research director at IDC. meetings [we have] in real life.”
GovSlack's general availability was also announced ahead of Slack's Frontiers event this week. Slack introduced GovSlack last September; enables public sector organizations on Slack's Enterprise Grid plan to meet the most stringent government compliance requirements when using the collaboration tool. GovSlack runs on a separate instance within Slack's Amazon Web Service hosted data centers, specifically the AWS GovCloud (US) cloud.
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