After celebrating its second anniversary a couple of months ago, the self-proclaimed fastest growing app for business, Slack announced big plans for its core chat functionality. As the messaging company revealed during yesterday’s presentation of its 2016 product roadmap in San Francisco, Slack will add voice and video chat capabilities to its app in the near future. The ultimate aim is to enable its users to turn an ordinary text chat into a call or a video call and vice-versa with the click of a button. Slack claims these changes will come “very soon”, and the first step towards them will be added voice chat functionality on desktops which will then expand to all currently supported platforms while video calls will follow closely behind. Granted, Slack already technically supports video calls thanks to its Skype integration, but native video call functionality will hopefully ensure improved performance in addition to the ability to quickly switch between different types of communication described above.
Speaking of Skype, Slack seems to be seriously aiming to compete with both it and Google Hangouts, currently the two most popular solutions for business-related communication. The call-switching functionality is naturally a big part of that plan as many businesses expect it, and we already knew it was coming since Slack acquired the company Screenhero in order to use its solutions to bring voice and video chats as well as screen-sharing to its platform for communication and organization. Other than that, Slack is also currently working on making general improvements to its messaging formatting tool and search operators while developers are also planning on making its so-called Shared Channels play a larger role in the overall user experience. Specifically, the goal is to not only make Shared Channels easier to use, but also to give their clients an option to use them to communicate with third parties such as vendors, marketing agencies, and advertisers. The first step towards that goal is a simpler billing system which is also currently being worked on.
Apart from the future, Slack also referred to its recent past during yesterday’s San Francisco conference, revealing that it currently has 2.3 million daily users, which means that it acquired 300,000 more since December. Sure, that may not sound like much in comparison to messaging solutions aimed at a more general audience like WhatsApp and Viber, but keep in mind that Slack is not only solely focused on businesses but is also an organizational platform and not just a messaging app. In that context, 2.3 million of daily users who on average use Slack 320 million minutes per weekday is definitely a lot. The future looks bright as well, especially considering the $80M investment fund Slack announced in December.