Skype has announced it is integrating its voice and video calling with cloud-based instant messaging app Slack.
Users of both services will be able to add Skype to their Slack app by using an ‘Add to Slack’ option in Skype. Once the two are integrated Skype calls can be made from within the Slack web, Windows, iOS or Android apps.
Slack, which started life as a digital startup in August 2013 and rapidly ballooned in growth, offers an internal private and group messaging tool for businesses.
The addition of Skype extends Slack’s functionality by enabling people to make video and voice call within the Slack app natively.
“Anyone on the Slack team can start a Skype call from a computer. Just type “/skype” into the chat and when the call is set up, a join link will appear,” the Skype team explained.
The integration is currently in its preview stage, with Skype looking to receive feedback from users before it is rolled out to all its users.
Skype is also providing free group video calling for users of iPhones, iPads and Android and Windows 10 Mobile smartphones.
The feature will be rolled out over the coming weeks, and will allow users to carry out group meetings while on the move, a boon for many workers who spend most of their time outside the traditional office environment.
It could be especially useful for small businesses and startups that may lack the IT infrastructure to support a robust mobility strategy.
Skype is offering the service for free as a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the video calling service, which has amassed two trillion minutes of video.
The Microsoft-owned company explained that this is the equivalent of reading to every child in the world for 10 hours, allowing every family to spend seven hours together over Skype, or enabling the world’s entire workforce to have an hour-long interview.
The figure is indicative of how people and businesses are increasingly willing to communicate through web-based services rather than face-to-face meetings.
Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for Skype, detailed how the firm’s video calling tool “transcends borders”.
“Couples keep it on all day when they’re apart, soldiers use it to be there for the birth of their child and explorers connect with students from the top of Everest to the bottom of the ocean,” he said, going on to cite one example of when the video calling service was used to teach doctors in Botswana how to perform stomach surgery.
The number of Skype users, and the way in which it is accessed, is only set to increase, as Microsoft is embedding the service into Office 365 and has it as a core communications app for the Xbox One games console.
But Skype is not just spreading its reach. The service is gaining more functions, including translation capabilities in the Skype desktop app for Windows.