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Category: #Review (Page 1 of 20)

AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT Recognizes Not All Gamers Need 4K

If you’re looking to build your first gaming rig, or if you’ve decided that you don’t want or need a costly 4K setup, you should take a look at AMD’s new Radeon RX 6000-level GPU. It offers a solid 1080p gaming experience and will only set you back about $400, so it’s a solid entry-level choice.

The RX 6600 XT uses RDNA 2 architecture with 32 compute units and 8GB of GDDR6 RAM. In use, it boasts a 2359MHz game clock, draws 160W of power, and even supports DirectX Raytracing, Variable Rate Shading, and AMD FidelityFX. The GPU is also a hundred bucks cheaper than the RX 6700 XT, the 1440p GPU that AMD released earlier in 2021, which is terrific.

Games-wise, AMD clocks the 1080p max settings at 441fps for Tom Clandy’s Rainbow Six  Siege, 177fps for Resident Evil Village, 289fps for DOTA 2, 137fps for Forza Horizon 4, 164fps for Battlefield 5, and 553fps for Valorant.

So if you don’t need (or, more understandably, can’t afford) a top-of-the-line premium 4K gaming setup, AMD’s RX 6600 XT is a solid and powerful alternative. The GPU offers better frame rates than the company’s 5000-series cards in many AAA titles. It also makes for a terrific upgrade for anyone looking to refresh an older gaming rig without breaking the bank.

The RX 6600 XT will be available for purchase on August 11 for $379, and it may also appear in some upcoming pre-built systems in August as well. The powerful, yet inexpensive, option is nice to see as it makes gaming (and even building your own PC for the first time) that much more accessible, as it should be.

via The Verge

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

Google Play Pass Adds 8 New Games

A screenshot from Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition.Raw Fury

A surprise update to Google Play Pass adds 8 new games, including the popular platformer Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition. This update comes as Google prepares to launch Android 12, an OS upgrade that includes a few special features for gamers.

Here are the new games now available on Play Pass. Two of these titles, Dandara and Cytus II, are quite popular and have several thousand reviews on the Play Store.

Google’s Play Pass unlocks hundreds of games for just $5 a month. You can sign up now to get your first month free–just fire up the Play Store on your phone, click your Account Photo, and select Play Pass.

The Android 12 update, which we expect to arrive this fall, allows you to play new games while they’re installing on your phone or tablet. It also includes a new Gaming Dashboard that lets you customize your graphics performance, battery drain, and other in-game settings that were previously inaccessible.

Google Play Pass

Google Play Pass unlocks hundreds of free games, including ‘Stardew Valley’ and ‘Sonic the Hedgehog Classic’ for just $5 a month. Sign up now for a free trial.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Airbnb’s New Speed Test Helps You Choose Places With Better Internet

New Wi-Fi speed test feature in host section of appAirbnb

Over the past year, the pandemic made working remotely commonplace and now, people are realizing they can do that from a more scenic place. That’s exactly why Airbnb just released a Wi-Fi speed test tool that allows hosts to verify and list their Wi-Fi speeds so guests can see before booking.

Whether you’re a digital nomad, a roadschooler, or just looking for a way to stream some games or connect with your coworkers over a video call while on vacation, the one thing that could make that difficult is a crappy Wi-Fi connection. While Airbnb hosts are already free to list their Wi-Fi speeds, it’s never been a standardized metric across the app and there was no way to tell if a host was being honest or not.

The feature is built right into the Airbnb app, under the “Amenities” section for host accounts, and uses M-Lab’s open-source software to measure Wi-Fi speeds. The simple tool makes quick work of testing and listing the information, even for those who aren’t tech-savvy, and ensures fair and equal testing for all users. The end result? A listing that’s (hopefully) more attractive to potential Guests thanks to verified Wi-Fi speeds.

Airbnb's list of various Wi-Fi speed meaningsAirbnb

Airbnb’s support document includes a chart (seen above) designed to help you better understand your Wi-Fi speed test result. The chart states that 7Mbps is “snappy” and enough for guests to make a video call or stream a movie together. It considers 14Mbps to be “fast” enough for guests to stream multiple HD videos simultaneously, and anything above 50+Mbps to be “lightning fast” and ideal for heavy-duty users.

The end result? A listing that’s (hopefully) more attractive to more potential guests thanks to verified Wi-Fi speeds.

Source: Airbnb

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Suzanne Humphries

PSA: Some Windows 11 “Installers” Are Malware, Here’s How to Safely Download the New OS

Windows 11 looking particularly dark and grim.Windows

Those who want early access to Windows 11 may try to find the new OS’ installer through a quick Google search. Yeah, you shouldn’t do that! Antivirus company Kaspersky reports that it’s saved “several hundred” customers from fake Windows 11 installers, which are really just malware. If you really need Windows 11 today, you must download it through official channels—and it’s very easy to do so!

As explained by Kaspersky, fake Windows 11 installers are just .exe files with official-looking license agreements and installation wizards. Microsoft will never distribute this OS (or any OS firmware updates, for that matter) through an executable file. You can only upgrade Windows 10 to Windows 11 through the “Updates & Security” panel in your Settings.

The malicious Windows 11 "installer."Kaspersky

So, how do you safely install Windows 11? I suggest reading our detailed guide at How-To Geek, but here’s the short of it—go to the Windows Insider website and click “Register.” After you breeze through some agreements, open your Windows 10 PC’s Settings and click “Updates & Security,” then select “Windows Insider Program” in the sidebar. Press the “Get Started” button, choose the “Dev Channel” as your Insider Setting, then go back to “Updates & Security” to install Windows 11.

Bear in mind that some computers cannot install Windows 11 due to the OS’ hardware requirements. Unfortunately, Microsoft disabled its compatibility-checking tool, so unless you want to read the requirements the old-fashioned way, your best bet is to go through the installation process listed above and hope that it works. “Updates & Security” will tell you (during the last step) if your computer isn’t up to scuff.

If you’re still having trouble with the Windows 11 Insider preview, just wait a few months for the OS’ official launch. Most of Windows 11’s most interesting features are still missing from the Insider preview, so it’s not worth fussing about. Plus, when Windows 11 comes out, Microsoft will nag you literally every day until you install it.

Source: Kaspersky via Windows Central

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Microsoft’s New Linux Distro Is a Warning Shot at Red Hat

A Linux Tux-like Logo with a Windows logo on his bellyhendrickn/Shutterstock / Microsoft

Ever so quietly, Microsoft dropped a new operating system out in the wild. No, not Windows 11. Microsoft created its own Linux Distribution. And while you might be tempted to crack jokes that Microsoft hates Linux, this is a big deal. Especially for anyone who relies on Red Hat or Suse.

Microsoft’s new Linux Distro, dubbed Common Base Linux (CBL)-Mariner, isn’t the type of distro you’d want to install directly on any old machine. It’s primarily meant for cloud infrastructure and edge products. Specifically Microsoft’s Cloud and Edge products.

But if you are curious, it’s possible to run. Juan Manuel Rey, a Microsoft Senior Program Manager for Azure VMware, recently published a guide to ISO CBL-Mariner image. With that, you can easily get it up and running. And you can build CBL-Mariner on an Ubuntu 18.04 desktop. So you can try it out, but that’s not the real purpose here.

It’s not a guarantee yet, but with CBL-Mariner, Microsoft could bring what it does best in Windows to Linux—Patch management and distribution. Windows updates might be a hated affair in the consumer world, but in the enterprise area, Microsoft wins points for predictability and reliability. You can carefully install updates, see what they do, roll them out to many machines at scale as you see fit. While Red Hat and Suse provide well-respected distros and some support, they don’t go anywhere near as far as Microsoft. And few other Linux companies (if any) can claim to support on the same massive scale as Microsoft.

It’s a compelling argument for anyone managing servers, especially lots of servers. The biggest reason to go with Windows server management tool is the superior server management processors, but Windows presents its own problems. Linux bypasses many of those issues but lacks the same patching capabilities. But with CBL-Mariner, you can have the best of both worlds. World-class server management capabilities with strong provisioning support for both Unix and Windows and the ability to skip Windows if you need.

It’s hard to overstate the complexities in patching Unix servers compared to the Windows equivalent; it’s a job often done by multiple people on the former end and sometimes handled by just one on the latter. And most people wouldn’t notice as Microsoft quietly became one of the largest Linux distributors in the world. The hard part will be winning over the community. But recent decisions, like letting GitHub live on its own without much control, may help.

It’s too early to say that Microsoft will definitely go in this direction yet, but it’s making all the right moves to enter the Linux Enterprise space. And possibly own it. Companies like Red Hat should probably take notice.

Source: Microsoft

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Josh Hendrickson

Microsoft’s New Windows 365 Service Lets You Stream a Cloud-Based PC to Any Device

A render of Windows 365 in action.Microsoft

In an internal memo from 2005, Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie details how an always-accessible, cloud-based Windows desktop will one day transform the technology industry. His vision is coming to life more than 15 years later with Windows 365, a subscription service that lets you stream a powerful Windows desktop to any device—yes, even your iPad.

Microsoft is one of the most powerful cloud computing companies in the world. Its Azure platform holds up a good chunk of the internet, and will soon be responsible for the U.S. Defense Department’s data.

Of course, you may know Azure as the backbone for Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly xCloud), a service that beams demanding console games to phones, tablets, and any other device you can think of. Windows 365 is simply the next step after Xbox Cloud Gaming. If you can stream a AAA game to any device, why not do the same with a super-powered, cloud-based desktop?

In that vein, Windows 365 is actually very similar to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Users can access their Cloud PCs from any device with a modern web browser, so long as they have a decent internet connection. And like cloud-based games, Cloud PCs retain their open apps and activity even as you jump between devices. For example, apps you open in Windows 365 on your iPad will still be there when you use the service on a laptop.

Cloud PCs sound incredibly convenient, though the main benefit may be power and speed. Subscribers can pick how powerful they want their Cloud PC to be and run apps that are too demanding for their real-world computer or tablet. And as Microsoft demonstrates, its Cloud PCs can reach internet speeds up to 10 Gigabits, making for a lightning-fast browsing or file transfer experience.

The idea behind Windows 365 isn’t exactly new, and several cloud-based “virtual PC” platforms have launched over the last few years. But unlike Shadow or Microsoft’s own Azure Virtual Desktop, the new Windows 365 platform is easy for individuals or large businesses to manage. It’s not a niche product—that’s why it carries the same “365” moniker that Microsoft slaps on its modern Office suite. (Although I should clarify that Windows 365 is based on the Azure Virtual Desktop platform.)

Business and Enterprise editions of Windows 365 will launch on August 2nd. Companies will pay a flat rate for each Windows 365 license that they use and can pick from 12 different Cloud PC configurations to give their employees. This system should be familiar to businesses that currently pay for Microsoft 365 services.

Unfortunately, we have no idea when Microsoft will sell Windows 365 subscriptions to individuals. But that may not be a bad thing, as this service likely costs more (in the long run) than a high-end PC. If you’re an enthusiast who wants to try Windows 365, you’ll have to find an employer who’s willing to pay for it, at least for the time being.

Source: Microsoft

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

The 7 Best Audacity Alternatives

Apple Logic Pro and Ocenaudio screenshots in a collage with Audacity logoOcenaudio, Apple, Audacity

Audacity is the go-to audio editor for a lot of people, and for good reason—it’s simple, free, and still reasonably powerful. But with the recent privacy controversy weakening confidence in the new owners, now’s a good time to look at the alternatives. Fortunately, there are a lot of great ones that have been competing with Audacity for years.

But first off, let’s talk about what won’t be included in this list: Audactiy forks. Audacity is open-source, meaning its source code is public and modifiable, directly opening the doors for forks. A fork is a piece of software built off of the source code of an open-source program. Usually, these still share a lot of similarities with the original program but introduce a lot of new stuff.

The reason they won’t be covered here, though, is because they’re often-time not as reliable as dedicated pieces of software. Forks are commonly owned and maintained by community members of the original program, and because of that, can go for long periods of time without updates. Taking a look at one of the most promising Audacity forks, Tenacity, you’ll see that the project maintainer recently had to step down, which is sure to slow development for a while. Uncertainty like this plagues most forks, which is why they won’t be covered here.

What to Look for in an Audacity Alternative

Chances are, if you’re reading this, Audacity is your main tool for anything audio-related, which can make it a tough thing to replace. But there are a lot of great DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstation) out there, so here are the things we looked for when considering entries for this list.

  • Features: While Audacity is used across the industry, the ways it’s used varies a lot. From podcast recording to music creation, people have found plenty of ways to push Audacity’s relatively limited features to the max. Because of that, we sought out a variety of software today, ranging from straightforward and easy-to-learn audio editors to industry-standard workstations. While the basics like recording audio, multi-track support, splicing and rearranging clips, and applying effects are seen in every program here, some go much further. If you’ve been reaching the limits of Audacity, then we have some fantastic audio-editing powerhouses here that will expand the scope of your work.
  • Open-Source: This means a program’s source code is public and easily modifiable by anyone with the know-how. While this may not sound like much to an average user, being open-source makes it much easier for people to create third-party add-ons to a program that can add new features. As we talked about earlier, Audacity is open-source, but there aren’t many other options out there that share this characteristic. We’ve only included one in this article, Ardour, so if that’s a big priority for you, you know where to look first.
  • Price: Being free is a major selling point for Audacity, so naturally, you’re likely looking for something free to replace it as well. Fortunately, there are multiple quality editors available for free we’ll be covering today. Still, we also included a few paid-for programs if you want to dive into some of the more professional options.
  • Platforms: Audacity is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux, so to make sure we don’t leave anyone out, most of the programs here support all three platforms as well. The only exceptions to this are Adobe Audition which is only available on macOS and Windows, and Apple’s software exclusive to macOS.

Easy to Use: Ocenaudio (Windows/macOS/Linux)

Ocenaudio main editing pageOcenaudio

While some people use Audacity for all of their audio editing, many use it rather sparingly for simple audio projects. If you aren’t making music or fine-tuning your voice to that perfect pitch, you probably just need something to record your audio with and then do some simple editing. So if that describes your time with Audacity, then Ocenaudio is what you’ll want to jump to—it focuses on simplicity and ease of use above all else. While the UI appears dated, it’s extremely easy to navigate, which means your transition period from Audacity to Ocenaudio shouldn’t last too long.

But while simplicity is the focus, that doesn’t mean Ocenaudio lacks features. You can still apply effects, fine-tune the EQ and gain (with a real-time preview, so you know what the audio will sound like before actually making any changes), and use the multi-track design for mixing. There are definitely limits relative to more advanced editors, but if you rarely dive into Audacity’s more complex tools, you’re unlikely to notice the limits here.

Ocenaudio is also completely free, so there’s no risk in trying it out.

Easy to Use


Ocenaudio’s straightforward and easy to learn design will make the transition period a breeze.

For Mac Users: GarageBand (macOS)

GarageBand main instrument editing pageApple

When it comes to Apple hardware, Apple’s software tends to be the best match, and GarageBand is a great example. While primarily made for entry-level music production, it also works for editing podcasts and voiceovers as well. You can mix up to 255 audio tracks at once, record music from digital instruments, and fine-tune it all using GarageBand’s straightforward UI. It can even be used to learn instruments, with entire lessons designed to help you play the piano and guitar.

While there is certainly a focus on music production, the standard editing tools and effects are also here, so GarageBand remains a fairly versatile program. It’s a great option if you’re using Apple devices but still want something free.

For Mac Users


Apple’s entry-level audio editor with a large focus on music production.

Open-Source: Ardour (Windows/macOS/Linux)

Main Ardour editing pageArdour

Ardour is the only program here that’s open-source, meaning it’s free and easy to modify—but it’s still packed with features for all sorts of audio editing. There’s an unlimited number of tracks, dozens of supported file formats, and extremely in-depth effects and mixing tools to get that perfect sound. Ardour prides itself on adding features its users want and need, creating an excellent DAW whether you’re dealing with voiceovers, vocals, or instruments.

This is further into the professional scene than what’s been covered so far, so it will be intimidating if you’re not experienced with a full DAW. There are lots of buttons, dials, and sliders to mess around with, but you can solely focus on the simpler tools if those fit the bill for what you’re doing. Whether you push it to its limits or not, Ardour is a real powerhouse in this scene.



If you’re missing the open-source nature of Audacity in particular, Ardour is the best replacement.

The Full Package: DaVinci Resolve 17 (Windows/macOS/Linux)

DaVinci Resolve 17 Fairlight editing pageBlackmagic Design

To start, let’s make something clear: DaVinci Resolve is a video editing program first and foremost—and a really great one at that. However, DaVinci Resolve prides itself on including everything you need to create a video, including standard video editing, color grading, special effects, and, notably right now, audio editing. There is an entire DAW hiding within Resolve called Fairlight, and on top of some solid features, it has a clean and straightforward UI.

There are special audio effects, you can quickly edit the EQ and gain, there are plenty of tools for cleaning up the sound, and you can use over 700 tracks at once. While these tools are designed with video production in mind, you can use Resolve solely for audio editing—and if you are working with video as well, then being able to jump from video to audio editing quickly is extremely useful.

DaVinci Resolve 17 is completely free, which is an amazing deal considering the functionality it provides. Whether you want a DAW with a clean design or you’re a video editor with advanced audio needs, Resolve has you covered.

The Full Package

DaVinci Resolve 17

There’s an entire DAW hiding within Resolve and it’s pretty great.

Powerful and Affordable: Reaper (Windows/macOS/Linux)

Reaper main audio editing pageReaper

This is the first paid program we’ll be talking about, but Reaper still keeps things reasonably affordable, especially considering how much it brings to the table. Reaper is a complete audio production tool for music, vocals, voiceovers, and other audio-related projects. It’s built to be as fast and efficient as possible, both in performance and UI design, with plenty of effects to alter your recordings. There’s support for 200+ tracks, digital instruments and physical audio hardware, and free updates constantly improve the program after purchase. You can also use third-party plugins to further personalize the program to your liking—both aesthetically and functionally.

Without a doubt, Reaper is the best solution to professional audio editing without professional prices. It has the tools to rival the larger names in this field without breaking your budget. As long as you’re not making over $20,000 a year from creations using Reaper, you only need the “Discounted” license. For a one-time price of $60, this grants access to everything Reaper has to offer (if you use Reaper in a professional capacity and make more than that, then you’ll need the commercial license for $225). There’s also a 60-day free trial if you want to give it a spin before paying.

Powerful and Affordable


A professional audio editor without professional prices.

Professional Grade: Adobe Audition (Windows/macOS)

Adobe Audition main editing pageAdobe

Audition is an industry-level workstation that you should look at if you already use the Creative Cloud. Not only does it offer all the tuning tools you’d need out of a DAW (along with a wide range of effects and free sound samples), but it also works in tandem with other Adobe products such as Premiere Pro and After Effects. Considering the limited audio editing tools found in both video programs, this is a crucial feature for advanced users.

But that’s not to say Audition can’t stand on its own two legs; it definitely can; It features a multi-track design with no limits, in-depth composition and analysis tools, and multiple forms of noise reduction for dealing with white noise and hissing. Like most of the other options here, Audition is built to be a one-stop-shop for everything audio, and it does a great job at that.

Like the rest of Adobe’s products, Audition runs on a subscription service—either $20.99 a month for Audition by itself or $52.99 a month for the entire Creative Cloud.

Professional Grade

Adobe Audition

Adobe’s industry-standard workstation which works great with the other programs in the Creative Cloud.

Apple’s Full Offering: Logic Pro (macOS)

Apple Logic Pro main editing pageApple

Logic Pro is Apple’s proper DAW. It certainly doesn’t disappoint with a straightforward but powerful UI and excellent performance on Mac devices (especially those with the newer M1 chips ). Creating music, recording a podcast, and fine-tuning your recordings is made as simple as possible, without compromising on the options you need.

You can still fine-tune your audio to your heart’s content, create music with digital instruments, apply effects, and make use of up to 1,000 audio tracks (which might as well be unlimited). Logic Pro is full of little UI touches that pull the whole program together and makes it a pleasure to work with whether you’re doing it professionally or as a hobby.

Regardless of why you use it, Logic Pro will cost a decent amount. There’s a 90-day free trial to take advantage of, which is always great to see, but afterward, it will cost you $199.99 for a full license.

Apple’s Full Offering

Logic Pro

A full-on, industry-level DAW from Apple optimized for Mac devices.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Eric Schoon

Newegg Now Builds and Delivers Custom PCs

A custom PC assembled by NeweggNewegg

Newegg just entered the world of build-to-order PCs, and its already one of the most compelling options available. For $99 plus the price of parts, Newegg will assemble and deliver a PC using components of your choice. You can choose from the full selection of parts on Newegg’s website, or skip the design process and order a pre-made configuration.

The PC assembly service, called ENIAC, is layered on top of Newegg’s recently-launched Custom PC Builder tool, which helps you pick out and order compatible PC parts from Newegg’s catalog. For those who want a professionally assembled PC, Newegg’s new build-to-order service is a serious treat.

While Newegg isn’t the first company to offer PC assembly, its website has more parts to choose from than any competitor. Also, Newegg says that it can ship assembled PCs faster than other companies, which take “weeks” to fulfill custom orders—the ENIAC FAQ says that its custom-built PCs should arrive in 7 to 10 business days.

The Newegg ENIAC program is in beta, and while the Custom PC Builder tool currently offers ENIAC assembly as an add-on, it may not be available to all users (Newegg also says that select components are not yet eligible for the service). Interestingly, pre-assembled PCs from Newegg are eligible for the company’s 30-day return policy.

Newegg ENIAC

Design a PC from the ground up with Neweggs’ Custom PC Builder tool, then pay an extra $99 to have the computer assembled by professionals. Newegg says that ENIAC orders should deliver within 7 to 10 business days.

Source: Newegg via Geeky Gadgets

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

Slack Goes from Replacing Email to Replacing Discord with These New Features

Slack's new Huddles feature in action.Slack

Slack is adding a ton of new features to its repertoire, including a few that you actually asked for. Most of these new features aim to emulate the in-person work environment (but really just emulate Discord), while others bring straightforward improvements to the Slack interface. Here’s a rundown.

Slack Huddles: Always-Open Audio Chatrooms


Here’s my pitch for Slack Huddles—it’s like Discord, or Clubhouse, or the voice chat thing that Twitter is trying to do. Basically, Slack Huddles is an always-available audio chatroom. Employees can come or go at any time, allowing you to hash things out with your coworkers and bypass the time-consuming Zoom call.

Huddles includes options for video chat and screen sharing, though it’s really an audio-first feature. It could come in handy when you need to round up the gang for a quick brainstorm, and although I’m poking fun at it, Huddles does seem like a genuinely useful feature.

Slack says that Huddles is currently rolling out to paid teams. Depending on how long its rollout takes, you might need to wait awhile before hosting your first Slack huddle.

Video, Voice, and Screen Recordings: Skip the Typing


Sometimes, you need to express your feelings without the awkward barrier of text-based chat. That’s why Slack now allows you to record video or audio messages for your coworkers. Just press the camera icon in the message field, choose an audio or video message, and hit the ground running.

Oddly enough, this new audio and video messaging feature includes a built-in screen recorder. You can quickly record something on your screen to show coworkers, such as a broken webpage or a few slides from a PowerPoint presentation.

But the best part of this feature is actually Slack’s improved playback software. You can speed up or slow down any video dropped into Slack, or check automatically generated transcripts (which are keyword-searchable and archived for posterity).

Voice, video and screen recordings are coming to paid teams over the coming months.

Slack Atlas: Detailed Info on Employee’s Roles


Joining a new Slack team can be incredibly confusing, especially when you’re still learning everybody’s role in the company. Slack Atlas adds extra details to everyone’s profile, including a company hierarchy tree, so you can quickly understand who’s who.

Unfortunately, Atlas is an additional purchase that’s only offered to select Business+ and Enterprise Grid customers.

Slack Scheduled Messages: FINALLY!


Announced earlier this month, Slack is finally rolling out its long-awaited Scheduled Messages feature. Yes, you can type out a message, set a date and time for it to send, and schedule the dang thing. You can even use Scheduled Messages to send out photos, videos, or screen recordings—whatever your heart desires!

Scheduled Messages is rolling out for all Slack teams, not just the paid ones. You can access it from the expandable toolbar next to the Send Message button.

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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Heinzman

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