The cross-platform collaboration tool Slack just announced a new way that its suite of apps will organize communication. The Threads feature, rolling out over the next few days, allows Slack users to unobtrusively group related messages without clogging up an entire communication channel.

This terminology may not mean much to non-Slack users, so let's consider its applications in real-life terms: Imagine attending a meeting where a side discussion, involving a subset of attendees, begins to take over the entire room. Wouldn't it be a boon to productivity if that group could splinter off, arrive at their own conclusions, and report back? Threads are a tool for making that happen in Slack – and keeping things organized along the way.

In Slack, group conversations take place over specific channels. With the arrival of threads, users can hover over any message in a channel to reveal the "Start a thread" option. This launches a sidebar conversation limited to relevant individuals only.

Meanwhile, channel participants don't get bogged down with text and notifications from the threaded conversation, and it's easy to loop new participants in when necessary. Anyone on the channel can view and search the thread as needed.

Slack is available for iOS 10, Android, Windows and macOS. It is a paid service, but there is a free trial option for interested teams. The trial is not subject to a time limit, but its features are limited.

View gallery - 2 images