Slack gets voice calling
Slack is one of the best communication tools for teams and it is fair to say that we are big fans of it. We use it every day to chat and share ideas for new stories but also to transfer files. And pretty soon we might start calling each other.
After beta testing the feature for the last couple of months in private, Slack is now officially rolling out voice calling. It is planned to reach users on both desktop and mobile apps, though its capabilities will be limited by their plan.
Slack says that voice calling is supported on the Mac and PC apps but also Android and iOS. That leaves Linux and Windows smartphone users out in the cold, at least momentarily, though it should be noted that both the Linux and Windows smartphone apps are only in beta at this stage. Quite likely, Slack is looking to get those titles ready for prime time before adding this feature to them.
In terms of the functionality that will be available for voice calls, Slack explains that one-on-one calls will be available to every user but only folks on paid plans will also be able to take advantage of group calls in channels and group direct messages.
Voice calling in Slack works pretty much as you would expect: once someone starts a call you will get a notification asking you to join. But, to make the feature a bit more special, the company has added "pre-selected emoji" that will show up on your avatar "to express approval, disapproval, or raise your hand to ask a question -- all without interrupting the speaker"; they are accompanied by a subtle sound.
On Windows and OS X, you will be able to initiate voice calls by clicking on the phone icon next to the settings button that's on the right side of the channel header. On Android and iOS the feature is available by tapping on the "Start a call" button in the drop-down menu for channels and direct messages.
If you do not yet have Slack, you can grab the apps here.