Users of the popular Slack business messaging service can now start a Skype call from within any of Slack's clients. This is thanks to a new integration that links the text-based Slack into the voice-and-video-centric Skype from Microsoft.
To enable this preview, Slack users can go to the Skype integration page and click on the Add to Slack button, which will add Slack integration to a selected channel. Microsoft says:
"Once the Skype integration has been configured, anyone on the Slack team can start a Skype call from a computer. Just type "/skype" into the chat and when the call is set up, a join link will appear. Whether your team members use Slack on the web, Windows, Mac, iOS or Android, you'll receive a Slack notification that a Skype call has started, so no one will ever miss a call again. Whenever you want to start a new call, just type "/skype" into the chat again which will set up a new call for others to join."
Slack users can join a Skype call over the web as a guest, even if they don't already have a Skype account. As this Slack integration posts a link to a Skype call in a channel, this will probably be most useful in channels with a smaller number of users — as anybody that's been on a call with several people can attest, it gets noisy and difficult to manage rather quickly. This feature is being put forward as a preview, so it's possible users may encounter bugs or glitches in the process.
Interestingly, this comes nearly a year after Slack's acquisition of Screenhero, a company that specialized in voice chat and screen sharing for teams. Slack said at the time that they planned to integrate Screenhero's tech into the Slack platform, but so far we've yet to see the fruits of that union.
Skype recently announced that group video calls were coming to all mobile platforms "in the coming weeks". Until that feature is enabled, Slack and Skype integration for mobile users won't be of much use.
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