Slack Introduces Voice Calling Feature in Beta

Team collaboration platform Slack already offers support for voice calls through integration with other services like Skype, but it's now rolling out its own real-time calling feature in beta. The Calls feature -- currently just on the desktop and only with audio for now -- will be available to all teams by the end of this week, the company said in a tweet yesterday.

Voice calls can be launched from either a Slack channel or direct message by clicking a telephone icon. Calls supports both one-to-one conversations and group discussions.

Eventually the voice-calling feature will be extended to video, screen sharing and mobile support as well, Slack said. The new services have been expected for some time, as Slack last year acquired Screenhero -- an online service for voice, video and screen sharing -- for an undisclosed amount.

Integrating Screenhero a 'Massive Undertaking'

Just over two years old, Slack has grown rapidly to reach a daily active user base of 2.3 million. Often touted as an "e-mail killer," Slack's technology enables both real-time and asynchronous conversations between individuals or teams. It has been integrated with numerous other messaging and collaboration apps, including Skype, Google Plus Hangouts, Dropbox and Twitter.

Slack was "far and away" the fastest-growing app among its business customers between May and August, according to last year's "Businesses at Work" report from online identity management service provider Okta. It is also the fastest-ever tech company to achieve "unicorn" status, meaning it was valued at $1 billion or more.

When it announced its pending acquisition by Slack last January, Screenhero said it expected to spend several months working to bring "our unique flavor of voice, video, and screen sharing to Slack, to make the joint product the best of both worlds. Since Slack is on Mac and Windows (like Screenhero)...

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