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Slack took the world by storm when it released in 2013, enabling companies to communicate internally using real-time chat instead of email. With its advanced features and slick design, Slack became the go-to solution for big teams, especially those with remote workers.
But not everyone likes Slack. All kinds of Slack alternatives have popped up over the years, trying to dethrone the king by being unique in this way or that. Flock, on the other hand, is a direct competitor to Slack that aims to be the same but more productive without gimmicks.
If you need a real-time communication tool for your team but aren’t sure if Slack or Flock are right for you, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know to pick the best tool for your needs.
The starkest and arguably most important difference between Slack and Flock are their interfaces. Something as simple as how an app looks can make all the difference as far as usability and productivity, and that’s certainly true here.
Slack’s design is extremely minimal and straightforward. There’s nothing to distract you, which means you can focus 100 percent on conversations going on, but it also means that all the important features are tucked away and require at least two clicks to find. It isn’t the most intuitive of interfaces either, so first-time users may feel lost for a bit.
The worst part about Slack is that it organizes first by workspace, and then users within each workspace. This is a giant pain if you’re in multiple teams that use Slack because you have to switch workspaces, then log in as a user of that workspace. This quickly becomes cumbersome when you want to hop back and forth between teams.
Flock’s design is more intuitive than Slack’s but also more cluttered, depending on who you ask. The left panel tracks all conversations, the right panel grants quick access to all the important features of Flock, and the middle panel is clearly where all the chat happens. Even as a first-time user, you can immediately find whatever you need.
And unlike Slack, Flock organizes itself by user and allows each user to be part of multiple teams. Note the left sidebar, which makes it easy to switch between any of your teams with a single mouse click. For power users, this feature alone may compel you to prefer Flock.
Both Slack and Flock are available across multiple platforms.
- Slack: Web, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone
- Flock: Web, Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
With both services, your teams and communications stay synced across all of your devices, allowing you to stay tapped in and connected whether you’re at home or on the go.
Both Slack and Flock have the same essential feature set: chat channels, direct messages, group messages, inline and threaded replies, alerts and notifications, file attachments, and voice and video calls. If that’s all you care about, then you’ll be fine going with either app.
That being said, Flock goes above and beyond just the essentials.
Magic Priority is one of Flock’s selling points. While Slack alphabetizes your lists of channels and direct messages, Flock sorts by priority and keeps all unread messages accessible from the same spot. You can also see a preview of the latest message in each channel or conversation, in case something catches your eye as needing urgent attention.
Another useful quality-of-life feature is Flock’s ability to add people to existing conversations, whereas Slack creates a completely new conversation whenever you add new participants. Having to rehash conversation points can be a huge waste of time, and Flock avoids that.
And speaking of group conversations, Flock doesn’t have a limit to how many you can add whereas Slack has a hard cap of eight participants. If you want more than that in Slack, you have to convert the conversation into a private channel. It’s an unnecessary inconvenience, especially for temporary topics of conversation.
Other unique Flock features include instant rich polls, built-in task lists and to-dos, channel-based mailing lists, and deep integration with Google Drive.
Although both Slack and Flock support app integrations, Slack has been around longer and commands more mainstream attention, and at the end of the day, more people use Slack than Flock. There are hundreds of Slack apps but only dozens of Flock apps.
For example, some of the more notable Slack app integrations include Google Calendar, Dropbox, GitHub, Zapier, Trello, 1Password, Giphy, Hangouts, Zendesk, and even Lyft. These apps can synchronize appointments, let you upload to the cloud, notify you of new support tasks or support tickets, and request rideshare rides right from within Slack.
Flock app integrations work in the same way, but your options are comparatively limited.
Some of the big app integrations are still available (including Google Calendar, Dropbox, Trello, GitHub, Zapier, Giphy, and Zendesk), and some lesser-known ones exist as well (such as Notes, Reminders, Pingdom, and Airbrake), but overall not as many.
Slack also supports automated bots while Flock doesn’t, and you can create your own bots using Slack’s special API for bots. Learn more about what APIs are and why they’re important and get started with these productivity-boosting Slack bots.
Pricing is where Flock really pulls ahead of Slack.
The free version of Slack has several limitations:
- Up to 10,000 searchable recent messages.
- Up to 10,000 or so active users (soft limit).
- A limit of 10 third-party app integrations.
- 5GB of storage space for file attachments.
- One-to-one voice and video calls only. No screen sharing.
- No two-factor authentication or single sign-on.
To expand these limits and unlock advanced features, the Standard plan costs $8/mo per user while the Plus plan costs $15/mo per user. Even for a small team of 10 members, that adds up and gets expensive extremely fast.
The free version of Flock offers a lot more freedom:
- Up to 10,000 searchable recent messages.
- Unlimited channels, messages, and users per team.
- Unlimited third-party app integrations.
- Up to 1,000 file attachments capped at 100MB per file.
- Up to 8 participants in voice and video calls.
- All advanced features available to free users.
Flock also offers an affordable Pro plan that costs $3/mo per user. This premium is only necessary if you need an unlimited searchable message history or premium-quality customer support in case your team encounters issues with Flock. (Note that a Pro plan does not increase the file attachments limit!)
And the Winner Is…
If your team is small, if you only have one team, if you don’t need the extraneous bells and whistles of Flock, if you need a specific yet uncommon app integration, or if you prefer as minimal an interface as possible, then go with Slack (and get started with these core tips).
But on the whole, Flock is outright better for most users. Not only does it have a more affordable pricing structure, it has better features and better productivity.
If you already use Slack but now want to switch to Flock, the good news is that Flock provides a one-click import tool that pulls in the following data: contacts and teams, public and private channels, chat histories, shared files and links. Note that you can only import data from Slack teams of which you are an administrator!
How do you feel about Slack and Flock? Do you prefer another real-time communication tool for your team? Share your thoughts and experiences with us down in the comments!