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Slack acquires Astro for email AI interoperability

In UC news, Slack acquires AI-powered email platform Astro, while CounterPath launches a team collaboration platform for SMBs.

Slack has acquired Astro, which provides email AI and calendar apps, to support email interoperability with its team collaboration platform.

While San Francisco-based Slack currently allows users to integrate email within the application, it is looking to simplify the experience. Astro's platform includes email AI capabilities, such as inbox prioritization, calendar reminders and inbox cleanup. Astro, based in Palo Alto, Calif., also offers a Slack integration with Astrobot, a chatbot that allows users to check their email and calendar directly from Slack.

The integration of Astro capabilities will allow Slack channels and email AI to work together to create a more streamlined experience that includes prioritizing important email messages and eliminating inbox clutter from within Slack channels. By encouraging users to shift email communications into a channel, Slack aims to enhance communications and productivity by putting all team communications in one place.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and Slack has not announced when it will be rolling out interoperability features. Astro will shut down its services on iOS, Android, Amazon Alexa, Slack, Office 365 and Gmail on Oct. 10.

CounterPath launches team collaboration service

Voice-over-IP service provider CounterPath launched Bria Teams, a team collaboration product for small and midsize businesses. The cloud-based platform offers tools such as secure team messaging, HD voice and video calling, screen sharing and file transfers.

Tim Gelardi, analyst at MZA, based in the U.K., said in a statement that the team collaboration market has seen strong growth in terms of revenue and users over the past year.

"The key driver is organizations looking to consolidate their communications tools, creating a single point of access for a number of tools and services," he said.

CounterPath, based in Vancouver, B.C., is seeking to bridge the gap for team communications and collaboration tools between desktop and mobile. Bria Teams allows an individual user to screen-share on up to three devices.

The team collaboration platform can also help organizations cut costs by using existing infrastructure, and it integrates with any PBX or VoIP service. To meet security requirements for its users, the platform includes built-in audio and media encryption.

Bria Teams will minimize the need for IT management through a single admin portal for setup and user management. The platform offers existing CounterPath customers a more cohesive collaboration experience, as well as new SMB users entering the unified communications market. Bria Teams is offered as a monthly subscription at $5.95 per user or an annual subscription of $47.40 per user.

Salesforce introduces voice-driven CRM with Einstein Voice

With the popularity of voice interfaces in the consumer market, Salesforce is taking aim at bringing the power of voice to customer relationship management (CRM) with the announcement of the Einstein Voice platform.

The voice platform, which is based on Salesforce's Einstein AI platform, will use the same principles as consumer voice interfaces by allowing users to interact with Salesforce with verbal commands. Users can dictate commands, such as updating records or notifying team members, to Einstein Voice using the Salesforce mobile app.

The platform can also be customized to give personalized readouts of Salesforce metrics, allowing admins to pick and choose which dashboards and information they feel is most relevant to driving their business.

The Einstein Voice platform also allows admins to build their own voice bots for employee and customer interactions. The bots can be customized to match corporate branding and connect to Salesforce CRM data.

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