Today marks the first day of Slack Frontiers, the work chat company’s annual customer conference, which is being held virtually this year. In conjunction with the event, Slack has announced several new features such as Slack Connect Direct Messages and Verified Organizations. But perhaps the most eyebrow-raising are a couple of “experiments” that Slack is trying out: an option to add an audio feed to a channel, plus a new Instagram-like Stories feature. Yes, even Slack could be getting Stories soon.
Slack is describing these video stories as asynchronous video clips that you can post either in a channel or a DM. They look and feel rather similar to the Stories that you can already find on Instagram and Snapchat, except without the goofy face filters (at least for now anyway) and they don’t disappear after 24 hours. The idea with these stories, according to Slack, is they offer a quick way to share a team message or a status update without having to go through the rigmarole of an all-hands video conferencing session.
The other experiment is an always-available audio feed that you can toggle on or off in any channel. When enabled, anyone can start a conversation and have people join in if they so choose. According to Slack, this is designed for “ad hoc connections when you need a quick answer or more eyes on a problem.” In other words, these are for unscheduled, spontaneous conversations that might not be important enough for a video call. It’s very reminiscent of the signature feature of Discord, a chat app that operates much like Slack but with more of a focus on gaming.
The aforementioned Slack Connect Direct Message refers to secure direct messaging across organizations. It’s an extension on Slack Connect, a feature announced in June that lets up to 20 companies communicate with each other. Simply share a private link with a trusted partner or customer, and they’ll be able to communicate with you through their own company Slack.
Since Slack Connect lets any organization chat with each other, Slack is also introducing a new Verified badge so you know if the company contacting you can be trusted. A Verified organization on Slack will be denoted by a checkmark. Slack is already working on verifying a select group of companies.
On top of verified organizations, Slack is also launching Managed Connections, which essentially lets your company’s IT admins pre-approve channel requests from certain trusted organizations.
Slack Connect Direct Messages, Verified Organizations and Managed Connections are set to arrive in early 2021. Both asynchronous video stories and the audio feed are still in the prototype stage, however, and are not currently on the product roadmap.