Facebook has rolled out a standalone chat app for businesses that use its Facebook at Work service.
Facebook at Work caters to businesses, allowing employees to communicate and share documents on private channels, and this week it adds a new mobile feature called Work Chat. Work Chat is a separate messaging app that operates similarly to the standardFacebook Messenger service, though it’s restricted to you and your coworkers only. It’s available to select companies on Android now, with an iOS launch in the works,TechCrunch reports. Facebook at Work is still in beta, though TechCrunch says about 300 companies use it daily, from Heineken USA to the Royal Bank of Scotland. When it launches for all businesses next year, it’ll use a “freemium” model, the site reports.Just as the main consumer version of Facebook has the standalone Messenger app for users to send messages to each other, Facebook now has Work Chat, a standalone messaging app to complement the private version of the social network designed for businesses.
The app, which was first spotted by TechCrunch, appeared on the Google Play store on Thursday. It is only available to the 300 or so businesses that are currently testing the Facebook at Work service, according to the report.
The chat app could spell trouble for Slack, the workplace messaging system that has taken off in many businesses over the past two years and which recently announced it has 1.7 million daily users on its service. Slack recently raised $300 million to continue its expansion and is being valued at $2.8 billion by private investors.
Facebook’s reach is massive, with roughly 1.5 billion monthly users throughout the world. The company is preparing to expand into thecorporate market with Facebook at Work, which is still currently in the testing phase. The specialized Work Chat app could provide much of the same features and benefits that many companies currently get from Slack.
The Work Chat app will allow employees of a company to send direct messages, start group chats, share photos and videos and even make calls, according to the description and images Facebook included in the Play store notes.
Here are some of the highlights of the Work Chat app touted by Facebook in the Play store notes:
• Send a message to one of your coworkers or create a group chat with a few of them. With chat heads, you can keep up with the conversation while using other apps.
• See a directory of other employees and start new conversations easily.
• Turn off notifications when you’re on vacation or just don’t want to be disturbed.
We’ve reached out to Facebook and will update the story if we hear back.