Don't Toy With Me, Slack

By Andrew Couts on at

Slack is one of those apps that needs to just work. But too often, especially when I’m on a mobile wifi connection, it barely works at all.

Such is the case multiple times a week, as I sit trapped aboard my regular morning train and curse the spotty mobile service that blankets the tracks on the way into the city. It takes ages to load, and if the wifi signal weakens even a smidge, it’s rendered truly useless. Nothing will send, no conversations will load, and I’m stuck staring at a little yellow “reconnecting” error message that tells me I’m screwed.

That’s all about to change, according to Slack. The company announced on Monday a forthcoming update to its desktop app that Slack says will improve load times by up to 33 per cent, reduce memory usage by up to 50 per cent, make Slack calls connect up to 10 times faster, and completely do away with the connection error messages that Slack admits “bring work to a standstill.”

Let me be perfectly clear here: Don’t you dare mess with me, Slack. I need this update to do what you say it will do.

My job is such that even five or 10 minutes being disconnected from Slack can derail my morning. Slack is the central hub of the Gizmodo newsroom, and much of what I do each day is time-sensitive. And due to the sheer number of conversations I have going at any moment—I sent more than 7,600 Slack messages in the past 30 days, according to our company Slack analytics—the mobile app, which seems to have more reliable connectivity overall, simply doesn’t allow me to chat fast enough to get everything done.

So, because of the Slack desktop app’s inability to stay connected, I’ve had to completely readjust my schedule to ensure I’m not stuck in a mobile wifi dead zone when I need to sign on. Given that, as of January, Slack boasts 10 million daily active users, I’m sure I’m not the only person who had to change his or her life thanks to Slack sucking.

While faster load times and lower CPU usage are great—and I’m sure someone somewhere makes Slack calls—it’s the ability to still use the app in less-than-ideal wifi conditions that has me genuinely excited for this update. But it’s not going to fix everything; Slack says the new version will let you “look back on messages from your session, even if your signal drops in and out,” which is at most better than nothing. Still, it’s enough to keep my stress levels at something closer to normal.

Slack says the update will be rolling out to users over the “next few weeks.” I’ve not been blessed with the latest version, so I cannot yet say whether it will do anything to make Slack’s desktop app more usable when on the go. But if it does, you can be damn sure I’ll be taking a later train.

Featured image: Slack (Gizmodo)

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