When it comes to teamwork, collaboration and group chat with work colleagues, Microsoft Teams and Slack dominate the market, but there are alternatives and AirSend is new to the scene.
These days with more people than ever working remotely, it is essential to keep in touch with work colleagues and team members, who can be widely dispersed across multiple locations. They may be in multiple offices or, as is the case with many people now, working from home.
If you cannot lean over and chat to someone on the desk next to you, if you cannot gather all the team together around a table to have a meeting and bounce ideas off each other and discuss work projects, you need some other way to keep in touch.
Communication with work colleagues and team members is essential, but it does not have to be face to face. Thanks to the internet, you can chat with other people and share documents and other files as easily as if you were in the same office.
Microsoft Teams and Slack lead the way with this type of service and they provide online spaces where people can be virtually present if not physically. People can chat, post office files, collaborate on projects and all work together with a common goal. It is also good for moral and people they feel more of a team than they otherwise would when working remotely.
Alternative to Teams and Slack
Teams and Slack are excellent, but if for whatever reason you don’t want to use either of those, there are others and the newest is AirSend. It is possible to sign up for free and this enables you to create unlimited channels, unlimited guests, unlimited message history, 15 GB of file storage with a maximum file size of 30 MB. I am using the free service.
There is also an introductory offer of a one-year free Pro account with 100 GB file storage and no file size limit. After a year, it costs $4 a month.
AirSend on the web, on phones
So what can AirSend do? This is a new service that is changing rapidly and has even added new features in the week or so since I joined. It is growing and adding new features fast, so this is really just a snapshot of what is available right now and there will probably be more features by the time you check it out.
AirSend is a web-based service on a computer and the OS doesn’t matter. After signing up at www.airsend.io you can log in with a browser. There are also apps for the iPhone and Android phones so you can keep up to date with messages on the go.
Like other services, it uses channels and these each have their own members, own messages and own files, much the same way you would create groups in WhatsApp or other messenger app.
After creating one or more channels on the home screen, you can then open one and add members. An email invitation is sent to each person you invite and they simply click the link and they are in. Initially as a guest, but they only need to fill in their name and email to create an account and become a full member.
Channel members can chat in the large area in the center of the app and on the left is a channel list so you can quickly jump from one to another to see different groups of people, messages and files.
It provides a basic messaging service, but it has a few extras and you can @mention someone, which alerts them with a red badge on the notification bell icon. You can reply to a message and attach files. It is also possible to add actions to a message and these include a reminder with a due date, mark it for review or update. People can be added to the action, too.
Channels can be customized by adding a logo and a background.
Store, download, edit files
Each channel has a sidebar on the right and the Files section enables folders to be created and files uploaded. This is useful when several people need to work on the same files or at least have access to them. Files or whole folders can be downloaded.
Right now, if you have a Microsoft Office 365 account, documents can be edited within AirSend. Click a document to preview it and from there it can be opened for editing using Microsoft Office 365. It is likely that support for other business apps and services will be added in the future.
A channel has an email address and messages and attachments can be emailed to it. An example AirSend gives is to create a channel for hiring people and get them to email their resume and application to it. Only you and the people you invite can see them and it is a useful place to collect them.
Create a Wiki
Also in the sidebar on the right is a Wiki tab and this is where you can place important information, help notes, rules, and anything you like really. It supports text and images, heading styles, bullet and numbered lists, separator lines, code, links to websites and more. It is a bit like a simple web-based editor like you might find on blogs.
AirSend is new and is adding features fast. It is currently behind what Microsoft Teams, Slack and others can do, and there are two areas where it could be better. One is integration with external services, the other is voice and video calling. My guess is that these will be added sooner or later.
The main advantage of AirSend right now is simplicity. It focuses on the basics and it is easy to use. If you have one or more teams of people and don’t want the complexity or features of Teams and Slack, AirSend is a useful tool for people to come together to chat, exchange information and store files.