Slack’s huddles are about to get a Zoom-like upgrade, with the ability to turn on video, screen-share and threaded chat.
It’s been a year since Slack first launched the “huddle,” an audio-only chat space you can turn on or off in channels and direct messages. Huddles became the fastest-adopted feature in Slack’s history, according to the company. “Our customers have loved the ease of use and simplicity of huddles,” said Katie Steigman, a director of Product Management. “It was really cool to see even a few months in that the median length of a huddle is about 10 minutes.”
Huddles were meant to enable casual, ad hoc conversations, riding the wave of audio chat made popular by Discord and Clubhouse in 2021. Steigman emphasized that the spontaneous nature of huddles is still at the heart of the feature. They’ll be audio-only by default, so users can keep using huddles the way they always do.
The new huddles are not meant to replace videoconferencing, Steigman clarified: They’re not meant for formal, planned meetings. “This will build on what people already use huddles for: impromptu coworking sessions,” Steigman said. “You’ll just be able to use video when you want to.” People will also be able to share screens in one huddle at the same time, and start a message thread if someone wants to share a link or tag a co-worker to join the huddle. You have Slack’s full selection of emojis at your disposal for reactions.
Steigman’s favorite new feature is the ability to add a topic. If you’re huddling in a public channel, you can name the huddle “Beyoncé’s new single” so your co-workers — and fellow Beyoncé fans — know to join.
The revamped huddles will be available to all Slack customers in fall 2022. Slack is also officially launching GovSlack, a more secure version of the app for government agencies and the private companies they work with, in July. Slack first announced GovSlack back in September 2021, laying out some of the compliance requirements it needed to fulfill. It’s still pursuing FedRAMP High and DoD IL4 certification.