Slack is basically an online private team chat tool, but one that works so brilliantly and is so well thought out.
First of all, let's do platform coverage. There are specific applications for:
- Mac OSX
- Android mobiles
- iOS Mobiles (iPhones and iPads)
There is also a fully-functional web-based application for Windows and Linux users, meaning that pretty much anyone can use it, even when mobile.
The other things that Slack has over other chat/instant messaging tools that I've used is:
- historical conversations are kept and searchable (up to 10,000 messages on the free plan)
- the app shows you where you last read up to, so if you're team have been chatting while you were away you can easily catch up
- it also emails you if there has been conversation while you were away
These features are what makes this, for me, a killer communications tool, especially for geographically dispersed teams, or those with part-time or remote workers.
Regular chat is split into "channels" for different topics, and you can join and leave channels depending on what you need to see.
You can have private conversations with other individuals, or form a private group chat between people.
You can also "mention" people which alerts them to the fact that something has been posted that they may be interested in or that is specifically about them.
There are a heap of other features, customisations, and integrations with other apps that are massively useful too. If you work in a team, you should give it a go!
* Improves communication between team members, especially when geographically dispersed or where people work different times (some organisations have pretty much replaced email with Slack communications!)
* Platform coverage: it can be used by anyone with a web browser, and has apps for Mac OSX, Android and iOS
* Searchable chat history
* Lots of customisation options and integrations with other apps
* Free plan works for unlimited users, but limits the searchable history to 10,000 messages and doesn't have some advanced features
* If you start using it a lot you could well start to need a paid-for plan and this can get costly with lots of users
* Switching to a chat tool for communications is quite a cultural leap for some that may need education and commitment