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Slack adds direct and group video calling in its latest update

by Vishal Laul

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In early November, Microsoft officially announced Microsoft Teams – Microsoft’s attempt at competing with the dominance of Slack.

Microsoft Teams was announced at an Office event, but doesn’t share the Office branding; it’s also developed by the Skype team, but doesn’t share Skype’s branding either.

Slack didn’t seem too worried about Microsoft Teams – in fact, they encouraged the competition. Of course, a product developed by Skype – even though it doesn’t share the brand – will have video calling, and that Microsoft Teams does. That was a problem for Slack – until today.

Slack’s Nuclear Arsenal

Slack introduced voice calling to its service in June of this year; today, Slack is launching video calling.

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It’s pretty simple to work with – click the phone icon to make a call, as you do for voice calls, and click on the brand-new camera button to turn that call into a video call.

Video calling works for direct one-to-one calls if you are on Slack’s free plan; if you are on one of Slack’s paid plans, you can do group video calls with up to 15 people.

There’s more: if you don’t like Slack’s video or voice calling experience, you can just go to the settings and set other services such as Google’s Hangouts or Zoom as default – if you press the call button, Slack will use the service you prefer.

Also, emoji’s shall not be ignored by the Slack team; Slack already lets you use an emoji while on a voice call, and it’s bringing them to video calling as well. If you use an emoji during a video call, the emoji will show up on top of your video, along with a subtle sound.

Availability

Slack is rolling out the new features ‘over the next few days’ – if you can’t make a video call yet, just be patient.

The feature will be available on the latest versions of Slack’s desktop apps on macOS and Windows, as well as the Google Chrome version.

Slack’s mobile apps won’t be able to do video calling – yet – but can still join one. A video call on mobile will simply appear as a voice call.

Microsoft might be a behemoth, but Slack had the advantage of being early to the game; the service has already changed how teams communicate – so much that Microsoft had to clone it – but Slack has a new challenge to face.

Slack needs to keep the innovation going, to be one step ahead of Microsoft Teams – that’s the only way to win this battle. One thing’s for sure: with Slack and Microsoft Teams both jumping into a fierce competition; it’s only going to get better for the users of these services.

You can read the full announcement on Slack’s official blog.

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