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Posts tagged with "Slack"

Slack Overhauls Emoji Support Across Platforms

In other emoji-related news, Slack today announced that they're going to support new emojis (including those from Emoji 5.0 released in 2017) across multiple platforms. If you use Slack on a regular basis, you know that the company has been notoriously slow over the past couple of years in adopting the latest emojis despite having launched features based entirely on them.

As noted by Jeremy Burge at Emojipedia, however, better emojis on Slack have brought a deeper change for Slack users on non-Apple platforms:

Users of iOS or macOS will see the least change to design in this release, as Slack previously defaulted to using Apple designs on all platforms.

Apple's emoji designs remain the set displayed when accessing Slack on any Apple platform.

Those using on Windows, Android, or any non-Apple platform will see a consistent set between: but it's not what you might expect. Google's emoji designs are being used for all non-Apple platforms now as shown by this alert:

And:

While Apple's emoji font is entirely owned and copyrighted by Apple, Google's emoji font (named Noto Color Emoji) is provided with an open source license which allows other projects to use this within the terms set out in the SIL Open Font License. Given this, it's possible that Slack believes it is on firmer ground to be using Noto Color Emoji rather than embedding Apple emoji images on competing platforms.

Jason Snell argues that this move will lead to a different emoji experience for Slack users who access the service from non-Apple platforms:

The result is emoji fragmentation, where different users of Slack will see different versions of the same general concept. Also, users like my friend Erika might prefer one set of emoji designs to another, but they no longer have a choice in the matter.

That’s the bad news. The good news, at least, is that Slack is rolling out support for new emojis, including gender splits and skin tones, that it previously didn’t.

I wonder if Apple's apparent push toward locking their emoji designs to the iOS ecosystem may have played a role in Slack's decision to implement an open-source emoji set instead (see also: WhatsApp). Still, I'm happy that I can share all modern emojis on Slack; I'll have to rethink some of my typical emoji reactions now.

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Slack for iOS Gains Quick Replies for Notifications

The latest update to Slack’s iOS app introduces a feature I’ve been waiting for since we started using the service for daily communications at MacStories: quick replies to notifications. Now when you get a Slack message, you can pull down on the notification banner – or, if you’re viewing an old notification, press on it – to send a reply without opening the app. I’ve tested this feature in the Slack beta over the past week, and it’s considerably reduced the number of times I have to open the app.

The fact that Slack’s native iOS app still feels so slow when loading and switching between channels makes this addition all the more welcome. It would be nice to have both quick replies and emoji reactions as options upon expanding a notification, but this will suffice.

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Threaded Conversations Are Coming to Slack

Slack is rolling out threaded conversations to its popular messaging tool. According to Slack’s official Twitter feed, the much-requested feature is being added to the service’s web and mobile apps in stages over a series of days.

Slack explains how Threads will work as follows:

Say someone posts a message in Slack that you want to follow up on, but the deeper conversation doesn’t apply to everyone. Now, you can kick off a detailed discussion on that particular topic by hovering over the message and clicking Start a thread. The right sidebar in Slack will open, and you can add your reply.

Messages with Threads are indicated just under the original message with the avatars of each participant. Anyone with access to the channel can click on a Thread to open it in the sidebar. If a message in a Thread is relevant to the channel’s larger audience, it can be sent back to the main conversation. Messages sent back appear alongside the original message. To help users keep track of Threads, Slack has also added a new view called ‘All Threads’ that lets you see every Thread you are part of in one place.


How Slack Is Using Emoji

After introducing emoji reactions last year, our own Slack team saw a dip in the total number of messages sent. With hundreds of members communicating across a couple thousand channels, it was a welcome change. Before emoji reactions, messages begot more messages: replies, questions, acknowledgment. In a word, noise.

Fascinating look at how Slack is using emoji inside the company. It's sort of amazing how versatile emoji can be when used in work communications with a bit of creativity. I'm also going to implement this idea for our own Slack:

Speaking of 18F, check out their blog post about using emoji reactions for knowledge management. They tag all “evergreen” content found in channels with :evergreen_tree:, and use a search query like the one mentioned above to find new messages worth codifying in their handbooks. At Slack, we do something similar, where anyone can tag a message with :notebook: to indicate it might be worth adding to the company’s internal documentation.

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Quip Launches Slack Integration Featuring ‘Sign in with Slack’

Since Google ended up offering one of the worst productivity suites on the iPad, we've moved several of our Relay FM show documents and MacStories research material to Quip.

Quip is a powerful alternative to Google Docs and Sheets with proper support for iOS 9 and multitasking on the iPad Pro. Despite some minor issues (the Apple Pencil can't scroll or select text in the app; there's no search in spreadsheets on iOS), I work better with Quip on iOS because they respect the platform and they take advantage of the latest iOS tech.

It's unsurprising, then, that I'm excited about Quip's integration with another service I use on a daily basis – Slack. Starting today, you'll be able to create Quip documents in Slack and mirror notifications from Quip to Slack conversations.

Spark ideas in Slack conversations and give them structure in Quip docs where you can organize, discuss, and evolve your team’s most important work. Use the Slack slash-command to create a new Quip doc where things can really take off.

And:

You won’t lose track of those groundbreaking, killer, disruptive ideas even if they’re happening in both the Slack channel and a Quip docu- ment at the same time. Any @mentions, messages, and edits to your Quip docs will in- stantly post to Slack so you can easily follow along and jump in on the action.

I haven't been able to test these features prior to today's launch, but I'm interested. I'm already mirroring notifications from a bunch of services (such as RSS and GitHub) into Slack channels, and adding Quip document status to the mix could be useful.

Also new today: Slack is rolling out a new 'Sign In with Slack' feature to quickly start using a service/app with your Slack identity and automatically get people from your Slack team on it.

Here's the Slack blog with an example for Quip:

When a user signs up for your app using Sign in with Slack, they’ll be instantly connected to their teammates within your product. For customers, this is an invisible but delightful feature. It exemplifies our mission in action — making people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive — by keeping teams effortlessly in sync.
[...]
Upon signing in with Slack you are automatically connected to your Slack team within Quip. No extra team creation required — your team already exists within Quip in one fell swoop. From there, you can use Slack and Quip to supercharge the way that you brainstorm and create documents with your team.

As the owner of a Slack team, I'm also eager to take this for a spin.


Slack Making It Easier to Add Reminders to Messages

Slack is a fun product to use (and company to observe) because they're constantly challenging how things should get done in a team collaboration service. Their latest addition to the desktop client lets you easily attach reminders to messages with a contextual menu:

Once this becomes available on iOS too, I think I'm going to use it a lot.

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Slack 2.8 Brings 3D Touch Support, Better Search Assist

Slack has released version 2.8 of their iOS app today with some great changes to save time on the iPhone and iPad.

On the iPhone 6s, you can now use 3D Touch on the app icon to switch teams, open channels and DMs, and search for messages and files. While I would have liked to see the ability to pin specific channels and DMs to the quick action menu, the feature is welcome regardless as it cuts down the time I spend swiping to open the sidebar just to switch between teams (I think anyone who's on multiple Slack teams can relate to this).

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What Slack Is Doing to Our Offices

Annalee Newitz, writing for Ars Technica, has a great profile of Slack and its impact on virtual offices and team communication:

Working in Slack feels like working at Slack for one simple reason. Henderson and his team built the software for themselves when they were developing the game Glitch with Tiny Speck, a company whose staff was split between San Francisco and Vancouver. "We started with IRC because we needed to chat somehow," Henderson recalls. "We tried things for collaboration, like having a constant video link or open Skype calls all day. But the thing that was consistent was IRC."

IRC, or internet relay chat, is a 28-year-old protocol for text-based communication that's open and incredibly versatile. Henderson and his colleagues built their entire workflow on top of it. They shared game assets, migrated a game server with it, committed code—and, of course, maintained contact with the whole team. When they ceased work on Glitch in 2012, Henderson says, they agreed that they would never work together again without a customized IRC system like what they had at Tiny Speck.

The article goes deep into the possible negative aspects of a "Slack culture" where everything is an emoji reaction or private message. (See also: breaking up with Slack.)

Personally, having a small team that's scattered around the world (we'd never be able to have physical meetings on a regular basis), I love how Slack's virtual office enables us to work together every day. But, I recognize some of the concerns shared by Newitz. A recommended read.

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Slack’s 2016 Roadmap

Josh Constine, reporting on Slack's plans to roll out voice and video chat this year:

The imminent release of voice and video chat could make offices noisier, but it will certainly make Slack more of a comprehensive communication solution rather than a tool plugged into a suite of other products. That might convince companies Slack is worth paying for.

Given Slack’s focus on making work searchable, it’s easy to imagine that years down the line, Slack could use voice recognition to create transcripts of your voice or video meetings.

Here's what I wrote when Slack acquired Screenhero in January 2015:

We use Slack at Relay, and, like many others, I like its integration with other services and apps. I always wondered if Slack would ever take on Skype, and I'm curious to see if what they're building could be a possible solution for podcasters who are forced to use Skype today.

More than a year later, we use Slack intensively every day, and Skype is only being used to hold audio conversations with multiple people. If Slack's take on voice chat supports channels and group calls and is sleek and stable enough, I think podcasters may want to keep an eye on it.

(Would Ecamm make a Slack Call Recorder, though? Would Slack consider automatically archiving those voice chats?)

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