Quill, a Slack competitor who stands out with its native interface and great ideas

Quill is a new communication tool designed for groups and companies. Like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Mattermost and all the others, it relies mainly on instant text messaging, while offering other ancillary functions, including video conferencing. The idea is always the same, you can chat in public or private channels, you can share documents, reply to messages… all the expected functions are there.

To distinguish itself, Quill first highlights its native interface on macOS and iOS. This is indeed one of the black spots of competing solutions, which are all based on a multiplatform framework inherited from the web, Electron most often. This newcomer intends to offer the comfort of a native interface coded in Swift, but this does not concern a priori than the Apple ecosystem. Like all instant messengers, Quill is available everywhere, including in a web browser, but it will then be necessary to be satisfied with a solution similar to Slack and the others.

The latest in this sector, Quill also benefits from the experience of his predecessors and brings some new ideas. Within a channel, you can create “subjects” (threads), which are sub-conversations that can be followed independently. It is a welcome organization to make crowded channels more readable and maintain intelligible discussions in parallel. The interface allows you to create a new topic from any selection of posts and the different topics are listed in the sidebar.

A channel in Quill, separated by subjects.

A screen also allows you to display a complete activity flow that brings together everything that concerns you and allows you to see the mentions. This is because Quill chooses by default to reduce notifications as much as possible and you will not receive any when a user mentions your name. To send a notification, you must add two exclamation points before the name of the user.

Another good idea, the integration of video conferencing in a sidebar that does not cover conversations. As with FaceTime, every video conference is associated with a channel in Quill, whether it’s for a private chat between two people or a global channel that everyone can see. The interface adapts according to the number of participants, but the video is always displayed in this sidebar by default.

Quill during a video conference.

Quill is a complete offer from day one, both in terms of the functions offered and the platforms managed. Its designers also announce the arrival of some missing elements at launch, including end-to-end encryption and the ability to make audio calls.

The app takes over freemium business model which is the standard in this field, with a free offer which is limited on storage space (5 GB per user), integrations with third-party services (5 maximum) and history (10,000 messages). A paid offer of $ 15 per month per user lifts these limits (10 GB of storage), while an offer aimed at large companies is in the works. It remains to be seen whether the native interface and the good ideas in the functions will suffice against the heavyweights of the market.


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