The addition of App Home screens create a central location for data at a glance, while granular permissions provide tighter controls for accessing information.
Slack is expanding capabilities of apps built for the team collaboration platform with the addition of a Home tab for apps, giving developers the ability to customize information visible at a glance, outside of the context of the message-based interface Slack is known for. The capabilities, were announced on Tuesday at Spec, the company's developer conference held in San Francisco.
The Home tab capability can be used to display information from third-party services, with Slack demonstrating an integration with Google Calendar that displays the user's schedule for the day, as well as providing the ability to accept or change meeting participation responses and directly join video calls.
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Multistep modal windows were also introduced as part of the announcement, providing an easier way to gather data in forms and displaying results or choices to users. The new features are part of Slack's Block Kit toolset, originally released in February, which enables developers to design visual workflows that operate across the Slack web, desktop applications, and mobile apps natively, not requiring rewrites for different interfaces.
Slack notes in a blog post that there are more than 1,800 apps presently available in the App Directory, including "tools from Atlassian, Google, Microsoft, SAP, Workday, and Zoom, as well as Slack-first services like Guru, Lattice, Polly, and Troops," in addition to 500,000 custom apps "used in a typical week during September 2019." Relatedly, Slack touts a survey indicating that 95% of Slack app users say that apps make Slack more valuable.
Slack also introduced a new interface for app display in Slack, listing "all the apps installed on your workspace along with ways to discover more," as well as the ability to invoke app actions using the Quick Switcher, which provides the ability to start an action without needing to know the name of the app needed to do so. For example, "submit a helpdesk ticket" could apply to any number of helpdesk apps, which could vary for people who switch between workspaces, or new hires unfamiliar with the helpdesk environment in their new workplace.
Granular permissions were introduced at Spec as an open beta, providing better visibility into what data apps need to access. Use of granular permissions is reliant on the app developer to limit scopes to necessary data for their app—this is not an equivalent to User Account Control in Windows Vista, or security changes in macOS Catalina.
For more, check out "Slack's State of Work survey finds communications gap between aligned and unaligned workers" and "Slack has become the glue for an organisation's productivity" at ZDNet.
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