I love thinking about universal interfaces. Having a single platform that is robust enough to adapt to my needs, but with a unified design to keep everything consistent (I guess technically this describes an Operating System, but I’m choosing to ignore this salient point).
About two years ago, I decided to try and ditch my smartphone as a daily driver, and live entirely for my mobile needs with Android Wear. After a few days, I wouldn’t wish that broken platform on anyone, but it’s the tight UI integration that tempted me.
Slack comes close to this ideal. It’s not there yet, but it gets close sometimes. Here are the bots that will keep you in the walled garden.
Oh you want to be the service that replaces email? But what about the philistines that don’t use Slack? What if you could send emails from inside the Slack?!?!?! Congrats, you need PigeonBot. It’s not the only email Slack bot, but it is the one with a logo that looks like Gonzo. On top of that, it’s dead simple to use.
/email @user [write message here]
It’s that easy. If you need to send the email externally, just put in the email address instead of the username. It’s not the prettiest email you’ve ever sent. It’s technically coming from PigeonBot, but for a quick casual email, it saves you a few clicks and let you live that sweet Slack life.
Large is more of a proper virtual assistant. It’s specifically designed to order you things. It’s got integrations with a bunch of partners, from the obvious Amazon, to Priceline and TaskRabbit. I don’t care about any of those. They all seem useful, and it’s kind of brilliant to put a universal product search in a chat interface. So why is it on the list? FOOD! It’s got integrations with most of the major food delivery services, and you can set the time, number of people, recourance, or just check what’s popular. On top of that, Large will reach out to everyone who’s going to share lunch, and get their individual orders. Brilliant. Sadly, it’s on an invite only basis at the moment. But the dream lives on…
Your job probably doesn’t need more memes. But at some point, you’re going to want to make a meme. Why go through some terrible web UI to create one, waste time firing up Photoshop, or look like you’re wasting time with a smartphone app? ZOMG bills itself as memes as a service (MaaS), and makes it really easy to make memes entirely within Slack. It’s a little like the Giphy integration, it can be hit or miss, but it’ll get your point across.
/meme theoden | So much | memes
Perhaps the most maddening thing about work is not a given task itself, but the ancillary tasks required to get there. The less time you can spend tracking your work, the better. At the same time, someone needs to make sure everything getting done. To-Do Bot manages to be both powerful and relatively unobtrusive in this regard. Tasks can be assigned to specific uses with descriptions. And I really love how you can use Slack reactions to trigger various follow up or completion behaviors. It still doesn’t make task tracking fun, but it lets you get it out of the way and actually be useful.
RSS is like that Honda Civic that you keep saying you’re going to get rid of as soon as something goes wrong with it. It might be ugly and weird now, but dang it if it doesn’t work. Need RSS feeds directly in a given Slack channel? Here’s your super easy implementation. Combine this with an IFTTT recipe, and you can turn this into a breaking news app, or make it hyper focused on a given vertical. Heck, depending on your work setup, you could hack this into a task tracker. RSS: you useful anachronism you.
Sadly, the one thing that keep you from really living in Slack is document creation. There’s a lot of tools to track documents, but not an option for editing and creating new ones. Once that happens, I can see a lot of basic work being done entirely within Slack’s interface. If someone knows of this, let me know in the comments.
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