In case you don't already count on Slack for just about every part of your work day, the business communications service is adding a whole bunch of new features that will keep you chatting with your co-workers without having to open new tabs and applications. The company is introducing shared channels, email and calendar integrations and an improved search feature that makes it easier to find just about anything.
The expanded search function is perhaps the most exciting addition. If you've ever used Slack -- or any chat app, for that matter -- you know that it can be a pain to find things that happened days, weeks or months earlier. The universal search bar now displays a list of unread channels and direct messages as well as the channels, files and people that you interact with most often. Slack is also promising quick results that show prior discussions and materials shared on the service, as you would expect from a search feature.
In addition to improving its search functionality, Slack is also getting better integrations for the two other applications you probably rely on most: email and calendar. In the next few months, it will add the ability for people who have been invited to a Slack but are yet to join to receive emails that contain important message and information. That includes mentions, direct messages and other relevant conversations. Over time, the company plans to give people the ability to reply to Slack messages straight from email.
Slack is also expanding on its recent integrations for Outlook Calendar and Google Calendar by introducing invites that can be sent and received directly through the communications platform. They will allow people to be alerted to important meetings, respond to make their availability known and join conference calls right on Slack. Outlook Calendar users will also be able to sync their schedules so Slack can update their status when a calendar event will have them away from their computer. The service will also start to automatically generate calendar invites when users type things like "Let's meet tomorrow and discuss." All of these features are expected to arrive before the end of the year.
If that's not enough for you, Slack is expanding its Shared Channels feature that will let multiple organizations communicate within the same workspace. The service should be welcome for any company that works with outside agencies and vendors on projects. The beta version of the feature for Enterprise Grid customers will launch this summer.