Slack's new audio-only group chats wants to bring back casual office talk

Slack Huddles
Slack Huddles (Image credit: Slack)

What you need to know

  • Slack is introducing several new features to the communication platform.
  • Huddles is an audio-only chat feature integrated into the UI for quick access to group chats.
  • Media such as audio recordings and videos can be captured and shared within Slack with transcriptions and live captioning.

Slack is rolling out several new tools to the telecommunication platform to help keep the work-from-home momentum going. The company hopes that its new features will help make working from home a more casual experience and even get rid of unnecessary scheduled meetings that maybe could have just been an email or a quick chat.

Slack Huddles is Clubhouse for work

The biggest addition to Slack is the new audio-group chat feature, Huddles. It allows users to start quick group chats with the press of a button, allowing anyone in a channel or DM to join. Slack says it designed Huddles to simulate informal conversations with coworkers that you might have at the office "to help re-create those spontaneous moments wherever teams work."

Slack Huddles Audio Chats

Source: Slack (Image credit: Source: Slack)

The idea is that members can drop in and out of a Huddle as if they're walking by your desk. To achieve this, the feature is built directly into the UI in an unobtrusive way, unlike many of the other platforms adopting audio-only group chats. And when you do need to get more done with a Huddle, you can share your screen with the group.

Slack says that pilot companies like Dell and Expedia have had "great success using this lightweight audio functionality as an alternative to video meetings."

Better media support and scheduled messages

Slack is also gaining better support for media. Now, users can use Slack to create and upload videos, audio clips, and screen recordings directly in the chat so that "anyone can watch whenever and in whatever way works best for them." Slack sees this as another alternative to meetings, where users can share information on the fly, and everyone can watch it or listen when it's most convenient, including on devices like the best Android phones.

Slack Video Recordings

Source: Slack (Image credit: Source: Slack)

The feature also works with third-party videos, and the content will be automatically transcribed for added convenience. Content made within Slack will benefit from searchable transcriptions so that when a viewer selects part of the text, the video or audio will go to that exact moment. Both Huddles and recordings will include live captioning.

And regardless of the content, Slack allows users to schedule messages so that they can publish when it's most convenient for the recipients.

Company directory

Lastly, Slack is making it easier for employees to get to know each other a little better. Slack Atlas is a new directory tool that enhances profiles to make it easier to find out about employees' roles and navigate your organization.

Slack Atlas

Source: Slack (Image credit: Source: Slack)

Slack Atlas enhances profiles with rich, dynamic information—including your company's org structure, employee start dates and custom fields.

This should make it easier for workers to figure out who best to go to based on their responsibilities within an organization, especially when new employees are involved.

Work from anywhere

Slack says it envisions a virtual headquarters for a "digital-first way of working," which will move companies and workers away from the standard 9-to-5 and enable better flexibility and collaboration. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic winds down and employees start returning to the office, Slack hopes to help businesses adapt to a "work-from-anywhere" world of in-person, remote, and hybrid operation.

Slack Atlas will be available for select Business+ and Enterprise Grid plans. Slack Huddles is rolling out to paid teams starting today, while enhanced media recordings will arrive in the coming months. Scheduled messages rolls out today now for all Slack users.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.