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Slack Huddle vs. Call: What’s the Difference?

slack app on mobile phone

Slack Huddle vs. Call: What’s the Difference?

Slack is among the best collaboration tools for organizations that rely on a remote workforce. However, it faces stiff competition from others, such as Microsoft Teams. To keep up with the competition, it has added several features to its basket, and the most popular one is Slack Huddle. Huddle has grown in popularity over the years, going head to head with the Slack Call feature. Eventually, on March 30th, 2023, Slack retired the Call feature, and Huddle took its place. Let’s explore the differences between Slack Huddle vs. Call, including how you can use huddles to improve workplace collaboration.

Slack Huddle vs. Call: Side-by-Side Comparison

When it comes to exploring the differences between Slack Huddle vs. Call, there are a few things that stand out. Let’s take a look at the comparison below.

Slack HuddleSlack Call
Video?YesYes
Screen Sharing?YesYes
Number of Participants1 to 501 to 15
Duration2-3 minutes (intended)30 minutes
Annotations?YesNo
Live Captions?YesYes
Need Scheduling?NoYes
StatusAvailableRetired

What is Slack Huddle?

Back in the pre-pandemic days when everyone had to work at one physical place, there was always a need for impromptu meetings with colleagues. In those days, if you wanted quick help from a colleague, you had to walk to their desk, ask for a minute of their time, pick their brain, then go back to your desk.

The same need still exists in the post-pandemic workplace, where virtual and hybrid workplaces have become the norm. How do you achieve this without scheduling a meeting of some kind? Here is where Slack Huddle comes in.

It is a feature for impromptu audio and video calls and chat sessions. You can huddle at any time with those who you need to have a brief discussion with.

You can start huddles on the Slack channels or DMs. Unlike DMs, where you invite the specific people you need to huddle with, huddles started on the channel are accessible to everyone on that channel.

How Does Slack Call Compare?

Slack Call was the Zoom version of Slack and certainly not as good as Zoom. You could use Slack Call for video conferencing or stick to audio calls by turning off the video feature.

Unlike Huddle, Slack Calls required scheduling a meeting with an agenda communicated in time, and only those invited to the Slack Call could join. Slack retired the Call feature at the end of March 2023.

Infographic Slack Huddle vs Slack Calls (retired)

©History-Computer.com

Slack Huddle vs. Call: What’s the Difference?

How They Are Used

Slack launched Huddle as an audio call feature but has added several features to it with time. Some of its current features include voice and video conference calls, screen sharing, and call recording.

The other key feature of Huddle is the sharing of audio and video recordings. It comes in handy when you have a thought, answer, or question to share with those in the channel, but you do not have the time to stay. You can simply do a recording and share it on Huddle.

To ensure only interested persons join a Huddle, you can set topics for the discussion. You can also use custom backgrounds, multiple screen sharing, and dedicated notes that are automatically saved to the channel.

Slack Calls came with the basic features found on most video conferencing platforms, such as screen sharing, chat, inviting participants, and video control. However, it had fewer features than Huddles, making it more limiting.

Calls did not have a different thread for files and messages, so you had to scroll through the entire thread to see shared files. Unlike Huddle, which allows two people to share screens simultaneously, only one person could share their screen in Slack Call. Calls only had emojis — there were no animated stickers or effects as found on Huddle.

Duration

Slack Calls were 30-minute meetings, which explains why they required prior scheduling and agenda. The purpose of Huddle, however, is to remove the stress of having to preplan such meetings or discussions that require only a few minutes to resolve. In theory, Huddles are to last only 2-3 minutes.

While the short duration of Huddles makes them suitable for brief rundowns, they are inappropriate in cases where lengthy deliberations are necessary. Now that Slack has retired the Call feature, you might need to use other platforms, such as Zoom, for such meetings or just schedule Huddles.

On both Huddle and Call, the maximum recording time is 3 minutes, which is even more suitable for Huddle than it was for the Call feature.

Number of Participants

The free version of Slack Hundle is limited to three people: the person starting it and two invitees. The number increases to 50 on the paid version. However, due to the informal nature of Huddles, people can join and leave them at their convenience.

Slack Call, on the other hand, only allowed for a maximum of two people on the free version and 15 on the paid version. Even then, only one person could share their screen at a time, and other participants couldn’t add annotations.

How to Use Slack Huddle

Setting up and Joining a Huddle

You can use Huddles on both desktop and mobile devices but with slight differences. For example, you cannot change the Huddle theme on a phone. However, setting up a Huddle or joining one is the same on both devices.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Open Slack workspace and choose the channel you wish to start a Huddle on or the DM option.
  2. Find the headphones icon and click on it to start a Huddle. It is the same on both PC and mobile.
  3. Use the Invite icon to add more people to the Huddle.
  4. When invited to a huddle, click Join, and you will be taken to the conversation.
  5. Use the other icons to manage your Huddle, such as Share Screen, Start/Stop Audio, Start/Stop Video, Show Thread, Add a Topic, and many more.
  6. When necessary, click on the Leave Huddle icon to leave the Huddle. The Huddle only closes when everyone has left.

How to Use Slack Connect

Slack Connect allows collaborations between Slack channels in different companies or organizations. You can therefore use huddles to work with teams in other organizations.

To do this, follow these steps.

  1. Ensure you are using the paid version of Slack.
  2. Enable Slack Connect.
  3. Activate Slack Huddles.
  4. When a Huddle is started in any of the channels, an antenna icon will be shown on the channel.
  5. Open the channel, then click on the headphones icon to join the Huddle.

How to Turn Off Huddles

Huddles can be a distraction for employees, especially those struggling with screen addiction or who just simply need to hunker down to get stuff done.

To avoid this, Workspace Owners/Admins and Organization Owners/Admins can limit the use of Huddles in a given channel or period by ensuring the members in those channels cannot start or join Huddles arbitrarily.

Here’s what to do.

  1. Open Slack Workspace.
  2. Tap the channel.
  3. Navigate to the conversation header and select the channel name.
  4. Go to Settings and click the Edit button next to Huddles.
  5. Select, No, Members can’t start or join Huddles.
  6. Hit Save.

Members in channels where Huddles are allowed can avoid distractions by turning off notifications.

Follow these steps.

  1. Open Slack Workspace.
  2. Click on your profile picture.
  3. Go to Preferences and scroll down to Sound & Appearance.
  4. Open the drop-down under Notification sounds (Huddles).
  5. Select your preferred option.
slack app on mobile phone
Slack Huddle is now the only call feature available on the platform as Slack Call was discontinued as of March 2023.

©Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.com

Hiding Huddle Status

One of the key limitations of Huddle is that it makes private conversations public. Not that it reveals the content or the person you are Huddling with, but it shows that you are “In a Huddle.” It only takes a few scrolls on the list of those in the channel to see who else is “In the Huddle” to figure out who might be Huddling with who and even see a pattern, creating unnecessary tension between colleagues and their superiors.

Even without this possibility, sometimes you just don’t want everybody to know your business. Fortunately, like in Slack Call, you can change your Huddling status permanently or whenever you join a Huddle.

Follow these steps to always hide your Huddle status.

  1. Click on your profile picture.
  2. Go to Preferences.
  3. Click on Audio & Video in the left column.
  4. Under When joining a Huddle, uncheck the box for Set my status to (with a headphone icon) In a Huddle.

If you want to hide your Huddle status when already in a Huddle, follow the steps below. Note that this will hide your status in just this one instance.

  1. Click on your profile picture on the top right of the screen on the desktop window. If using the mobile app, click on the lower right-hand corner.
  2. Select Clear Status from the drop-down menu.
  3. Alternatively, click on the X button next to the In a Huddle status.

Slack Huddle vs. Call: 3 Must-Know Facts

  • Slack Call is no longer available as of the end of March 2023, and all its functionalities have been transferred to Huddle.
  • While Huddles are ideal for quick 2-3 minute meetings, you can still have lengthier and more organized Huddles.
  • Screen share and captioning features in Huddles are not available on the mobile app version.

Is Huddle Better Than Call?

Since Slack Call is no longer available, Slack users are stuck with Huddles. To help you understand why huddles are better than the retired alternative, here are the pros and cons of both features.

Slack Call

ProsCons
Encouraged planned meetings Only one person could share a screen at a time
Supported a maximum of 15 people 
No separate thread for chats and shared files
Not easy to plan lengthy meetings

Huddles

ProsCons
Easy to start or joinCan easily be misused
Suitable for short impromptu meetingsCan be a source of distraction
It’s possible to have long Huddles (15 minutes or more)No feature for scheduling Huddles
Two people can share their screens at the same time
Annotations are possible
Supports a maximum of up to 50 people
Makes quick sync with teams in other organizations

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I join a Huddle?

The channel with an ongoing Huddle will have a blue antenna icon on it. Open the channel, then click on the headphones icon on the bottom left to join the Huddle.

Can I invite outsiders to a Slack Huddle?

You can invite Slack users outside of your organization to join your discussion. This option, however, is only available for paid plan users.

Can my employers read my private Huddle messages?

While they do not have real-time access to your conversations in the Huddle, the log of chats and files during such sessions are often saved on the cloud, and your bosses can access them. It is best to keep your personal issues and scathing remarks out of the Huddles and Slack altogether.

Does Slack collect my information?

Slack collects the information you willingly provide and any that can be gleaned from your activities on the platform. But, hey, all social media platforms do that, don’t they?

Are there cross-platform options for Huddles?

Not at the moment. Huddles are limited to Slack and its users. If you need a team collaboration tool that allows communication between users on different platforms, consider Huddle alternatives like Mio Universal Channels, Clubhouses, and Twitter Spaces.

Why did Slack retire the Call feature?

Slack Call’s features overlapped with most of which Huddle had, such as video calls and screen sharing. Besides, Huddle has many more features.

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