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article imageMicrosoft Teams gets new app integrations in biggest ever update

By James Walker     Jan 30, 2018 in Technology
Microsoft's announced a new update for its Slack rival Teams. The collaboration workspace now features greater compatibility with third-party apps, helping enterprises deeply integrate it into their workflows. Microsoft said it's the biggest update yet.
APIs and integrations
Announced in a blog post today, the new release helps make Teams into a more credible Slack rival. One of Slack's main strengths has been its compatibility with third-party apps through a wide range of chat integrations. Although Teams already has integrations, the new features are a much closer match to what Slack can offer.
Microsoft Teams app directory
Microsoft Teams app directory
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Microsoft's added a new app directory, improved integrations and support for chat slash commands. These commands can be quickly typed into the chat box to perform an action within the app, such as setting your away status or starting a call. Commands can also be provided by third-party apps and integrations, so you can quickly interact with your cloud services from the Teams app.
In addition to pure slash commands, Microsoft's rolling out dedicated app commands that start with the "@" prefix. These are used to find information stored in apps that are directly linked to Teams. You can type "@" and then start searching to find OneDrive files, tasks in a project management system or images stored in Adobe's Creative Cloud. Microsoft's examples will be joined by more functionality over time as additional apps add their own commands.
Apps in chats
The strengthened app integrations run all the way to Teams conversations themselves. Microsoft's made apps into a source of information for chat messages, so you can send app information in the same way you add an image or GIF. The company said this is a more effective alternative to sending a hyperlink or screenshot because the recipients can start engaging with the content as soon as it arrives in Teams.
Microsoft Teams can now add content from apps to chats
Microsoft Teams can now add content from apps to chats
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To incorporate all these changes, Microsoft's subtly revised the Teams interface. The most significant change is the relocation of the command bar to the top of the app. It now sits centrally, inside the app's title bar on Windows, encouraging users to enter a command and start retrieving content. The rest of the Teams UI, consisting of workspaces, tabs and app displays, hasn't changed since the app's initial release last March.
Microsoft doesn't state how many people use Teams but the company did claim 125,000 organisations have tried the app at an event last September. The app's strengths, primarily deep integration with Microsoft's wider Office 365 suite, make it a compelling Slack alternative for large organisations. The launch of stronger app integrations sees Teams gain one of Slack's headline features, which could make it more appealing to organisations who use their collaboration platform as a hub for all their activities.
More about Microsoft, microsoft teams, Digital, Collaboration, collaboration software
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