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The cloud based team collaboration tool is bringing its feature set closer to rivals, giving Slack video and voice integration that will aim to attract more casual users.

Slack is beefing up its feature set to become a potent alternative to rivals such as Google Hangouts and Microsoft Skype, by introducing voice and video chat.

The new features are not expected to arrive until later in the year, according to the company’s released 2016 roadmap.

With the update, Slack will be making its most aggressive push towards a Skype style service yet, giving users added options beyond the community and team style chat the company has become known for.

Slack says that it will begin testing the video and voice chat features “very soon” and the additions are clearly trying to attract more casual users.

The announcement comes after the January 2015 purchase of Screenhero, a company that specialized in voice and video chat, as well as screen sharing cross platform. At the time Slack said that Screenhero would continue to operate as its own entity, but the company did fold its employees into the Slack team and said eventually Screenhero would be integrated into Slack.

That time is clearly on the horizon as the 2016 roadmap shows (VIA TechCrunch):

[Voice] on desktop will come first, and then the company will focus on making it work on all its devices and apps. Video will have to wait until after that. Underwood noted that you can already make voice calls via Skype’s Slack integration. But with its own feature, she says the use case will beIf I’m DMing someone in Slack and we want to switch to have a quick voice conversation, it addresses that problem.

Slack has enjoyed rapid growth since launching in August 2013 and now has 2.3 million daily active users. While that may not seem a lot next to Microsoft’s Skype, it is actually impressive considering the nature of the Slack service and how long users spend on the system.

Each user averages 140 minutes on the service per day, taking advantage of its team communication tools for enterprise purposes.

SOURCE: TechCrunch