Slack rolls out voice calling to take on Hangouts and Skype

8 Jun 2016

In its latest effort to corner the productivity app market, Slack has moved its voice chat capabilities from invite-only to open, with aims of taking on the established services like Skype and Google Hangouts.

Many office workers are becoming familiar with Slack as a tool they use to collaborate on a project, or just to message people in their office when they’re pretending to work.

Now, however, it’s getting into previously uncharted territory with the full release of voice chat capabilities between users.

Taking on Google Hangouts and Skype

In a blog post on Medium, the company said that, having previously tested the system through an invite-only system, any user can now make one-on-one calls through Slack, or, if you’ve paid for the premium version, groups can also engage in conference calls.

Until now, Google Hangouts and Skype have been competing with one another to dominate the business conference call realm, but Slack’s rapid rise could see those already using it stick with the one service, rather than switching each time they want to make a call.

Slack voice calls demo

Image via Slack

Emoji responses

Although perhaps what the latter two have over Slack at the moment is that they offer at least a limited free conference calling ability, compared with Slack’s premium-only limitation.

As for what else Slack’s new voice calling has to offer, it seems that, just like in text messages, emojis are important to convey sentiments.

During a call, anyone involved in it can add an emoji over their avatar as a reaction along with a subtle sound, the thought being that someone doesn’t have to interrupt someone mid-flow.

Slack says that it will have the new feature rolled out to all its users by this Friday (10 June).

Woman on conference call image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic