Slack mobile app gets UI refresh for easier navigation

Slack mobile app gets UI refresh for easier navigation

Popular chat tool is overhauling navigation on its mobile app to make it easier for users to quickly access needed messages and notifications

Credit: Dreamstime

Following its 2019 desktop app refresh, Slack has now updated its mobile app, promising users a simpler and more intuitive interface that’s easier to navigate on a small screen.

As part of the redesign, Slack has overhauled app navigation, adding a tab bar at the bottom of the screen with four tabs: Home, DM, @mention and You. The Home tab contains a list of prioritised notifications, highlighting direct messages and channels requiring immediate attention.

Slack now gets a tab bar at the bottom of the screen with four tabs: Home, DM, @mention and YouCredit: Slack
Slack now gets a tab bar at the bottom of the screen with four tabs: Home, DM, @mention and You

A full list of unread notifications shows up in the dedicated Direct Message and @mention tabs. Previously, direct messages were trickier to access because they were located in dropdown sidebars in Android and iPhone apps. To view @mentions, users had to go to the hard-to-find ‘Activity’ screen.

With the redesign both will now be front and center, making it easier to respond to messages from a smartphone.

Slack is also making it easier to update personal status on its mobile app. With the “You” tab, a user can now quickly switch status to “away” when needed or snooze notifications without digging into the preferences menu screen.

Slack has changed how a user updates their personal status on the mobile appCredit: Slack
Slack has changed how a user updates their personal status on the mobile app

Among the other changes are swipe gestures to move between workspace and conversation views, and a new compose button. The latter is similar to the compose button recently added to the desktop app, making it easier to start writing a message without first finding the correct channel or DM.

Users can also access third-party app integrations using a lightning bolt icon, which can be tapped for shortcuts to actions such as creating a poll or setting a reminder.

“Slack’s redesigned mobile app is a continuation of what they’ve started on their desktop and web clients, all around a central theme of making the interactions with Slack easier, and more streamlined,” said Micheal Facemire, principal analyst at Forrester.

The redesign should make it easier for users to keep track of numerous conversations across various channels and direct messages as Slack becomes more deeply embedded in organisations.

“Slack’s goal is to have as much of your working life spent there as possible. Unfortunately, as that succeeds, the amount of input between ‘conversations,’ moving from one to the next, seeing where I’m needed and what I’ve missed, becomes increasingly painful,” said Facemire.

“By adding tabs back to the bottom of the experience and more clearly defining group channels from direct messages, they begin to achieve this.”

Although the redesign was needed, he said, there is room for further improvements, such as the inclusion of more personal automation.

“For instance, every time you send me a message, I should be highly alerted, and even reminded, so that I respond right away. Yet a message from one of my colleagues that I always respond to late at night would have a different alerting pattern,” Facemire said. “These types of affordances will do far more than changing the UI, but this is a good first step.”

The mobile app launches today with the updates available via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store over the next week.

In related news, Slack’s application was unavailable for several hours Tuesday night, with user reports on peaking around 7.56 p.m. ET. Slack noted the issue on its Status site at 8.53 p.m. ET and the issue was resolved at 11.26 p.m. ET. 

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