discussion

Slack the evolution of messaging

In the past years, many messaging applications invaded the market, gaining lots of fans and offering many free features that almost destroyed the traditional SMS messaging. Messaging evolution has happened exponentially in the last two years.

One of the biggest issues with introducing new apps to a community is adoption – it’s just so hard to get people to adopt new things. Don’t shake your head, us people in the tech community are no different. Try getting people in a high-tech engineering team to move from SVN to Git. Yeah, that’s an exercise in futility.

Well, I’m using Slack for multiple team communications since last 8 months and it’s simply awesome! I have also built a couple of bots using Slack API.

Reasons why Slack is better

  • Available on PC, Web and Mobile These services are ideal if you want to use the app while sat down at your computer, as well as on the go.

  • You don’t need a Sim card to log in The app is not connected to your phone number, so you can use it on devices such as tablets without needing a Sim card.

  • You can send documents

  • Substantially smaller app size (iOS app) A smaller app size means that app will take up less space on your device. This leaves more space for other apps, as well as other data such as photos and music.

  • You can stay invisible and switch off notifications You don’t have to log out in order to appear offline. WhatsApp will send you a message if your data service is on, there is no way to stop messaging or go offline. I find this really irritating sometimes.

  • Is a social network It is a social network, which has features such as commenting and tagging. This means you can share content quickly and easily and engage with a community.

  • More reliable web client WhatsApp web client constantly gets bogged down and needs to be refreshed. I often find myself not getting notifications messages. Slack Web app remains open with instant notifications.

  • You can use channels to keep conversations separated.

  • Better privacy Slack is designed for communication in teams and does not ask for permissions to access address book and uses strong encryption in its message format.

  • Higher rated on the App Store
    4.5 vs 4 (WhatsApp) The app has a higher rating on Apple’s store, showing the overall quality of the app and user satisfaction.

Apart from this I have also used HipChat, IRC, Campfire and many other messaging evolution and team communication apps. There is an impressive level of polished UX spinning every aspect of Slack that is matched by very few apps anywhere. Everything from the onboarding to the way mobile push notifications happen where you’re AFK, to the way it atomically gives you discounts for inactive users is just incredibly well designed.

And yeah the integrations! which are where Slack makes everything else look like amateur hour. There are over hundreds turn key integrations, each of which is impeccably designed and offering comprehensive coverage of the service’s features ranging from webhooks to full API access that gives you more granular control and customizability.

Imagine the delight of posting a link to a Google doc, then finding the content of the document indexed and available in search. This goes far beyond cosmetic, Slack is executing on the vision of being the actual go-to communication platform for a whole team, potentially taking a major bite out of email in a way few things have been able to in a professional setting.

Few features that can make Slack even better

  • Show that someone is typing We should be able to see when someone is typing a reply in a channel, that can prevent confusion while discussing something.

  • Send your location Send a stamp to someone with your current location. This saves a lot of messing around with directions. This may not be a great feature but obviously, it’s good to have.

  • Message delivered and seen User should be able to see when someone opened your message, so he/she knows whether or not it has been read yet. Well, this feature has its own views sometimes, I feel I don’t want the user to see this whether I have read those messages or not so it can be something like if I hide read status, I shouldn’t be able to check others too!

  • Contacts integration There should a way to quickly invite a phone contact to a particular channel, and the user will have only access to that particular group only. User has to use his/her email to join the Slack team. There will be really helpful.

If I talk about WhatsApp, With 1 Billion users, virtually everyone including your grandma is on WhatsApp now, and hence ‘adoption’ is really a big challenge.

Slack can be used for all team communication purposes. Universities and college students should try Slack. Slack is a lot more business orientated and that definitely shows whereas WhatsApp has the convenience factor for people. Give it a try and see what you think. Upload some gifs and create some custom emoji. Integrate with the services you already use. Explore what’s possible with the application and it will be hard to go back to vanilla IM again.

The load’s of messaging apps flooding the market today and making the digital life of people more complicated than ever will leave only the best contenders in this IM app tussle.

What do you think? Post your comments below.

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Vikesh is handling the tech team at Speedbox as CTO. He formerly worked at Slack as Test Automation Intern in San Francisco and twice at Directi as Software Engineering intern in Mumbai. Vikesh spends most of the time of the day in front of the laptop but he loves doing photography, video editing and listening to songs in free time. Follow his daily life on Facebook and Twitter.