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Slack goes after email with ‘Connect DM’ — opening up chats with folks outside your company

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Slack is useful to connect with your teammates and avoid sending them emails for things that can be discussed quickly through a chat. However, to talk to a person from a client or partner organization whom you interact with regularly, you’d need to email them and maybe even schedule a meeting or call them to check a trivial detail.

Now, Slack is solving that problem by introducing a new feature called Connect DMs that’ll let you chat with someone from outside your organization through just a few clicks. This sounds like an email but in a chat format.

In June, the company introduced Slack Connect, a way for multiple companies to have a joint slack channel. It said that over 56,000 organizations have been using this feature after the launch, and Slack Connect DM is the next step of that.

The implementation is easy: you generate a link for starting Slack Connect DM and send it to your contact. Once they accept the invitation, you can chat with them directly in Slack. Plus, you will have control to revoke access at any time.

Slack Connect DM

If you talk to people in a particular firm frequently, your admin can add that company to trusted contacts as well so you don’t have to go through the approval process every time.

In addition to that, Slack will verify some organizations with a checkmark — something like a verified marker of Twitter. So, when someone from that company sends you an invitation, you know it’s a genuine request and not an attempt for phishing.  This comes in handy when you’re talking to sales or customer support reps of a service that you use frequently

Verified organisation for Slack Connect DM

Along with this, Slack also announced tighter integration with apps such as DocuSign to securely send and receive documents from within the app.

Slack Connect DM and verified organization is going to roll out in early 2021.

Read next: Video: Here’s everything you need to know about Huawei’s new hardware

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A long-awaited Willow sequel is official, and it’s coming to Disney Plus

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After years of silence, Disney has confirmed that Lucasfilm’s Willow will receive a sequel, in the form of a TV series coming to its Disney Plus streaming subscription service. The pilot will be directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ John M. Chu.

Willow has largely remained untouched since its original release in 1988, but this long rumored sequel will join existing novels and a comic book that previously built out the world of the film. The original can already be streamed on Disney Plus, and this new series will join The Mandalorian as Lucasfilm’s second television spin-off on the platform.

The 1988 film, directed by Ron Howard, was a cult hit when it first premiered, a fantasy adventure about an aspiring sorcerer named Willow (Warwick Davis) tasked with shepherding infant princess Elora Danan to safety alongside a ragtag group of fairies and warriors played by the likes of Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley and Kevin Pollak.

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Not much is known about the sequel series beyond that it takes place years after the original film, but Ron Howard, now an executive producer, describes it as a “creative lean-forward” rather than a “nostalgic throw-back.” Willow himself will return: Warwick Davis, also a beloved Star Wars veteran, is set to reprise his role.

For Lucasfilm, this Willow series comes after five years of focus on Star Wars exclusively. Now that the Skywalker Saga is wrapped, I’m curious to see what other classics the company might bring back if Willow succeeds. I’m particularly interested in an American Graffiti series; there’s definitely enough teenage angst for a TV show if Riverdale is any indication. And yes, Indiana Jones and Labyrinth are still in the mix too. A fifth Indiana Jones continues to inch its way to production. And while not affiliated with Disney, a sequel to Labyrinth from Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is also in the making.

Disney has made it clear that Disney Plus is the future of the company, and it needs all the new content it can get even with The Mandalorian returning for a second season and WandaVision on the way. A Willow series on Disney Plus, and perhaps other future Lucasfilm spin-offs, might help.

Though there’s no announced release date for this new series, the original film is available to stream on Disney Plus and remains as charming as ever. All the better for fans new and old to reacquaint themselves before the next adventure starts.

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Quibi apps arrive on Apple TV, Android TV, and Fire TV

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Quibi, the troubled streaming service focused on “quick bites” of mobile-first content, has just launched apps for Apple TV, Android TV and Fire TV. The company quietly announced the change in an updated support article.

These apps follow Quibi’s ongoing attempts to get more eyes on its content after launching as a mobile-only app. The company first made content more shareable in May, and followed that soon after with AirPlay and Chromecast support.

Unfortunately for Quibi, these changes to the initial mobile-first strategy may have come too late. A new report in The Information claims that co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has attempted to sell Quibi’s programming to Facebook and NBCUniversal while telling others he may have to shut down the company entirely.

Quibi has struggled to scale since its launch, dealing with a lackluster reaction to its first collection of content and a drop in subscribers after its 90-day trial offered at launch ended. The pandemic has likely played a role in dissuading customers from resubscribing, but really Quibi has never made a great case for itself in the first place.

It’s great for Quibi fans that there’s multiple more ways to watch the service, but if the company doesn’t right itself, soon enough there won’t be any way to watch at all.

Disclosure: Vox Media, which owns The Verge, has a deal with Quibi to produce a show, and there were early talks about a Verge show as well.

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AOC’s debut Twitch stream is one of the biggest ever

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) made her Twitch debut tonight to play Among Us and encourage viewers to vote. She also, very quickly, became one of the platform’s biggest broadcasters: her stream peaked at 435,000 viewers around the time of her first match, according to Twitch. (The stream is still going as of this writing, but it had dipped to around 350,000 viewers after about two hours of playing.)

That peak viewership puts her broadcast among the 20 biggest streams ever, according to the third-party metrics site TwitchTracker, and much higher if you’re only looking at broadcasts from individual streamers. Ninja holds the record for an individual streamer, with more than 600,000 viewers during a Fortnite match with Drake in 2018. TwitchTracker’s metrics suggest that AOC’s stream could in the top 10 for an individual in terms of peak viewers.

Politicians have increasingly been using tech and games to get out their message. The Biden campaign debuted an Animal Crossing island last week. Last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined Twitch to reach a “potentially supportive audience that we may not be hitting other ways.”

The stream reached more than 300,000 viewers before the first game even started.

Ocasio-Cortez’s stream came together quickly. She tweeted Monday asking, “Anyone want to play Among Us with me on Twitch to get out the vote?” Major streamers quickly signed up — she ended up being joined by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Pokimane, HasanAbi, Disguised Toast, DrLupo, and more. Her stream even had graphics prepared, which Ocasio-Cortez said came from supporters who started making art after she tweeted.

Despite only having minimal Among Us experience — Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that she’d never played before, but seemed to have brushed up before the stream — she did well in her first broadcast. She was chosen as an imposter in the first round and, with a partner, knocked out about half the field before getting caught. Omar later made it to the final three as an imposter before getting voted out by Ocasio-Cortez and Hasan.

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