Anyone working in a professional setting likely needs to use a collaboration app at one time or the other. This type of app makes it easy to connect and work with other people even if you don’t see eye to eye. For instance, you can be in the UK and working on a project alongside people from the U.S.A. and New Zealand.
There are dozens of collaboration tools out there, and we scoured the web to identify the best apps to make it easy for you. To come up with our list, we considered important factors including pricing, customer support, ease of use, and features.
We've also listed the best collaboration platforms for teams.
The best collaboration apps of 2023 in full:
Slack is the most popular online collaboration app globally with over 10 million+ daily active users. Many people in your professional and social circles will likely be already familiar with the app, which makes using it for collaboration easier.
The main feature of Slack is that you can set up new Channels or join existing ones. A Channel is a central space for users to communicate and exchange messages instantly. All you need to join a Slack channel is an invitation that’ll be sent to your email and click on the link within the email.
You can access Slack via a web browser or download the app on your mobile device or desktop. With the app downloaded, you can get instant notifications whenever someone sends you a message or mentions you in a discussion. This makes it easy to keep tabs on your discussions and avoid forgetting them. However, the notifications can become a pain if you have a lot of in-app activity (you can always disable them anyways).
Slack may not have all the features you need, but the platform has integrations with over 2,200 third-party apps to provide extra features. For example, you can integrate it with Google Drive for easy file storage and sharing or Trello for project management. Slack has an intuitive interface that makes it easy and enjoyable to use, and all these features warrant its first position on our list of the best collaboration apps.
Read our full Slack review here.
It might seem surprising that Dropbox is on this list because the platform is best known for file sharing. Dropbox was released in 2008 and cemented its popularity as a file-sharing tool. However, it began adding collaborative features later to differentiate itself from the competition and now is one of the best apps in the sector.
Dropbox began with file sharing, so it’s no surprise that it’s an expert in this sector. The platform makes it very easy to store your files, organize them, and share them with other people in your professional and social circles. You can even share files with people that don’t have Dropbox accounts; just generate the link and send it to them, and they can download or edit the files depending on the permission you grant them.
Free Dropbox users can access up to 2 GB of storage, which is quite small, so upgrading to a premium plan is the best option. The platform offers both personal, family, and workplace plans.
The Plus plan for individuals costs $11.99 per month (or $9.99 billed yearly) and provides access to 2TB of storage, which is quite large. The Family plan costs $19.99 per month (or $16.99 billed yearly) and provides up to 2TB of storage for six users. The Professional plan starts at $19.99 per month (or $16.99 billed yearly) per user and allocates 3TB of storage.
Dropbox offers a collaborative document editing service called Paper. Thanks to this service, two or more persons can collaborate and edit documents in real time. Dropbox Paper is free to use, and you can sign up with your existing Dropbox account or Google account.
Read our full Dropbox review.
Almost everyone is familiar with Microsoft, the American software giant behind the Windows operating system. In 2017, Microsoft released a business communication platform called Teams. Thanks to Microsoft’s strong appeal with both individuals and enterprises, Teams grew rapidly and amassed millions of users in a short while. It’s the primary competitor to Slack and offers similar features plus its own improvements.
Teams is best known for providing one of the best video and audio conferencing solutions. You can make voice and video calls with other users, and the quality of the calls is very good (little lag, low latency, and high-quality audio). You can also chat with other users in a real-time and exchange information seamlessly.
Teams is a more ideal solution for enterprises than individuals because it is included for free for enterprises that are already subscribed to Microsoft 365. Thus, such businesses avoid paying extra for a collaboration app. Bundling Teams for free was the primary strategy that Microsoft used to attract millions of users and gain an edge over the competition.
Read our full Microsoft Teams review.
A double-digit percentage of active internet users are already familiar with Google’s tools such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, etc. Google Workspace is a collaboration software suite that Google offers to deliver advanced versions of its popular tools in one place.
For instance, as a Google Workspace subscriber, you can create a custom email with your own domain name. You’ll continue using the same Gmail interface that you’re familiar with but with your custom domain ending instead of the generic “@gmail.com”. You can use Google Docs to create and edit documents in real-time with other people.
Google Drive lets you store and organize your files and share them with other people when need be. Google Meet is one of the best audio and video conferencing solutions because it’s easy to use; just sign in with your Google account, initiate a meeting, and send the link that others can follow to join. Similarly, you can join any meeting hosted on Google Meet by following the link.
Because many people are already familiar with Google’s tools, it’s a great idea to choose Google Workspace as a go-to collaboration platform and continue using software services that you’re already familiar with.
Read our full Google Workspace review.
InVision is a collaboration platform built specially for designers and creatives. Its core feature is a virtual whiteboard that multiple people can work on simultaneously. For example, if you’re a lead designer in charge of a team tasked with coming up with creative ads for your business, all team members can jot their ideas on this whiteboard for others to take note of, and you can select the ones that’ll be implemented.
InVision provides pre-built templates to make assigning and managing tasks easy. There’s also integration with many third-party tools to provide extra functionality. For example, you can link it with Zoom or Cisco Webex to hold video meetings with your team or Google Docs to edit Word documents in real-time.
InVision offers a free plan that lets users create a maximum of three whiteboards. The Pro plan allows you to create unlimited virtual whiteboards, and it starts at $4.95 per user per month for up to 50 active users. Anything above 50 users will require the Enterprise plan, which has no standard pricing; you’ll need to contact InVision’s sales team for a quote.
Factors to consider when choosing an online collaboration app
Cost: Some online collaboration apps can be expensive, especially for individual users. Hence, it’s necessary to choose one that aligns with your budget. The good thing is that most collaboration apps don’t hide their pricing information; you can always find out what you’ll pay beforehand and even take advantage of a free trial to test the features before making your final purchase decision.
Ease of use: A platform with a complex user interface can give you a lot of headaches. You should consider how easy it is to navigate your collaboration app before making your final decision.
Features: Different apps have different features, and it’s necessary to find one that offers most of the features you want. Preferably, your app should allow third-party integration to provide extra functionality that may not come with the main app.
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