Slack planning voice and video chat, upping threat to Hangouts, Skype

Slack plans to roll out voice and video chat this year, making the popular messaging company even more competitive with incumbents like Microsoft's Skype and Google's Hangouts. That's according to their 2016 product roadmap, presented to customers at a conference today in San Fransisco.

TechCrunch reports:

[Voice chat] on desktop will come first, and then the company will focus on making it work on all its devices and apps. Video will have to wait until after that. Underwood noted that you can already make voice calls via Skype's Slack integration. But with its own feature, she says the use case will be "If I'm DMing someone in Slack and we want to switch to have a quick voice conversation, it addresses that problem."

Slack also plans a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor that would allow for rich text formatting, a more approachable search system, and more.

Would you switch away from Skype or Hangouts for Slack voice and video chats? Let me know in the comments!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie has been covering the personal technology industry for almost a decade. Editorial Director at Mobile Nations, analyst at iMore, video and podcast host, you can follow him @reneritchie on Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter.

  • Use Discord
  • There is no Discord app for WP. I have a team group on Discord but no app. I asked them and they said they weren't planning one yet.
  • I've been speaking with them. No one they have on their team likes Windows phone, they straight up refuse to make an app because of it. Our only hope for an app is if they employ someone who uses Windows phone. Seriously they even admitted the only reason they have an Android app is because one of their staff has an Android phone.
  • Yrs I will switch over from that bull crap Skype..amd hangouts as is, is not available on Windows phone.
  • I guess they'll beat hangouts, since its ****, tried it once awful. Skype is still favorited by companies. But nice to see alternatives to Skype, this will help make Skype better.
  • Yeah, Hangouts is a bit painful to use. Skype is just old tech trying to fit in a modern world. Slack though is a fresh start. Plus, the people behind it are funny.
  • your comment made me laugh "...the people behind it are funny..." Posted via Universal Windows App on Windows 10
  • I think he meant funny looking.
  • We need funny in this day and age. :)
  • Slack is old tech, glorified IRC client. Lync aka Skype for Business is modern business tool :)
  • Don't hold your breath waiting for MS to improve anything, especially where WP is concerned
  • it's people like you that stifle any progress in the world. Please stop being so negative :( Posted via Universal Windows App on Windows 10
  • Exactément!
  • I love Slack. I use it for work and it works great, with a great UI. Skype hasn't taken hold with me because not enough people I know use it, and because it has historically been less effective when we have wanted to use it. 
  • I've no qualms with Skype. It works well for me. Never tried slack. But probably wont either.
  • Considering that skype is complete garbage, I welcome Slack's entry into the fray.
  • It's too bad that Skype and GroupMe are going the way of Live Messenger. People are leaving these platforms for new ones out there Posted via Universal Windows App on Windows 10
  • The more the merrier.
  • My company is switching from Skype to Slack, just found out today.
  • Slack is not used by me for personal usage. It is used for office contacts only so with them with intigrated voice chat feature, Slack will get more usable for me. ​However, Skype is for personal contacts. So is Whatsapp so it will be better suited for that usage.  
  • Skype for Business (Lync) would be proper comparison, or is this slack thingy not for businesses?
  • Slack is definitely for business. It's meant for individuals in a group to communicate with one another, and they can have sub-groups for department/context specific communication. It's not a social network in that you don't look for individuals outside of the organization to communicate with.
  • Will it be VoIP or voice over data?
  • Another redundant app in a crowded market.  No one I know uses Slack, probably because they stopped trying "new messaging apps" back in 2012 when there was a new overhyped one every couple months. Slack Also seems quite team and/or business oriented, which explains why bloggers and tech enthusiasts at Mobile Nations and other places rave about it, while other people out in the real world have simply never heard of it. EDIT:  People are not gonig to bay ~$7/mo. to do what you can do on Skype or Hangouts for free...
  • Yep, like I said in a comment above, it is definitely sensible in a business setting, not really meant to be a social network/discovery platform. It is very popular in the tech industry from what I have seen. The last three organizations I have worked with all adopted Slack as their primary means of internal communication. Emails and phone calls are both less convenient for a lot of trivial communications collaborators often need to have. Being able to create private groups is absolutely useful, some integrations are nice, and overall usability with gifs, file transfers, snippets and such is very good. Worth the paid amount for many companies. Makes little sense for individuals. Groups can still use it for free, they just won't be able to archive more than 10,000 messages.
  • If you work in the tech industry, then you'll most likely be using Slack, especially if you work in a startup.
  • That's the most important thing about Slack. It isn't trying to be the latest and greatest IM app/service. It's a service for inter-office or inter-department communications. Its use and access is controllable by your tech or office admins. No social networking features. No outsider messages (only for team members). No bloated usage. It's a slender, focused, and well executed app or service that best serves businesses. It's great at meeting those needs if that's what you're looking for. It ain't for everyone though.