Slack wants to be more than a giant chat room. It announced today that it plans to add video chat, voice chat, and screen-sharing features, all of which will be built with the help of Screenhero, a company that it's just acquired. The entirety of Screenhero's six-person team will head to Slack as part of the acquisition, which is being made in a cash and stock deal.
Screenhero boasts nearly lag-free screen-sharing
Though Screenhero doesn't offer video chat, it already has the tech for both voice chat and screen-sharing. Screenhero says that it currently offers the "lowest latency screen-sharing on the market," allowing two people to control the same computer with next-to-no lag. It lets you share either everything on a computer's screen or just a single window, with each person receiving their own mouse cursor for control. It also allows voice chat to be used at the same time, so that the people sharing a screen can communicate if they aren't in the same room together. In particular, Screenhero suggests that its service is good for collaboratively writing code, but it can also be used for something as simple as lending a hand while troubleshooting.
All of Screenhero's features will be rebuilt inside of Slack, at which point Screenhero itself will be discontinued. Paying Slack customers can use the Screenhero app for now, but it isn't accepting any other signups.
Slack says that building these new features directly into its app — rather than offering them as a standalone service — will make for a much more efficient experience. That's obviously true at a very basic level, but Slack has always put a big focus on efficiency. Until now, it's shown that by allowing users to integrate dozens of other services into the chat room (so that you could, for instance, set Slack up to ping you when you get a new Yo). This will be the first time that Slack has added major new features into its own app, but they're ones that a good number of users should find helpful. It'll also help Slack compete with other companies catering to business users like Hipchat, which has already built in voice and video chat. Slack has been growing incredibly fast, and new features like this should only help.