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Facebook adds third-party app support to its Slack competitor

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But there’s no easy-to-use app store — just APIs for IT pros

Facebook continues to flesh out its office collaboration app Workplace, adding new features to make the software more competitive with market leader Slack. The latest addition is something called “custom integrations” — a set of tools that allows companies to add support for apps and in-house software; anything from internal email to CRM and calendars. Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt London, Workplace director Julien Codorniou said these integrations could potentially include big-name enterprise products like Box for file sharing, or Gmail for email.

It’s not clear exactly how this will compare to Slack’s own third-party support, but it seems Facebook’s solution is not really aimed at the average user. Slack offers customers its own version of the app store, with hundreds of Slack apps and bots available to download and install with a few clicks. By comparison, Workplace’s custom integrations is designed for IT specialists to handle. Facebook isn’t offering an app store, but guidance on how its APIs can mesh with things like internal log-in systems and canteen menus.

Apps on the Workplace Integrations tab.

It’s a bit odd considering that Workplace is, in some ways, more user-friendly than its competitors, simply because it looks and feels like Facebook itself — a site anyone with an internet connection knows. But we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised at this, as the social juggernaut has been dragging its feet with Workplace for a while, originally claiming the software would be introduced way back in 2015. Since then, Slack has not only risen to nearly 3 million users, but Microsoft has launched its own collaboration platform, Microsoft Teams. Facebook will need more than support for canteen menus to keep up.