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Hipchat's hosted plan is no longer available for new customers, and has been replaced by Stride, the new team chat app from Atlassian. You can still purchase Hipchat Data Center to run on your own servers, though.
Communication is essential for any team. Without it, tasks slip through the net and ideas go unheard. Whether you're talking in meetings, txting ideas, or swapping jokes at the watercooler, it's important to stay in touch with your team. And for many teams today, the best way to do that is with a team chat app.
Online team chat gives teams the simplicity of SMS and other popular messaging tools, while keeping all conversations in one places where they can be easily referenced. And typically, team chat apps tie into the apps your company is already using—something HipChat, one of the more popular team chat apps, excels at.
HipChat works much like any other instant messenger app. You can chat in groups or take your conversations private, add emoji and attachments to your messages, @mention team members to pull them into conversations, and share links to files and more across the web. HipChat shows inline previews of any links you paste in from Twitter, YouTube, and many other sites, while the “Emoticon Shrink Ray” allows you to drop in any image to create a custom emoji.
To message your team anytime you want, you'll need a team chat app that works everywhere. HipChat includes Linux support, along with its standard iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows apps. You can use them to chat with your team and search through messages, or you can video and audio call other users in a Skype-like interface—complete with screen sharing for real-time collaboration.
Then, to take your conversations beyond just random chitchat, HipChat includes deep integrations to pull data from your other apps into conversations. Built by the team behind JIRA, Confluence, and BitBucket, HipChat is a great tool for keeping up with your development work. You can get notifications on task updates and Git events within your chat, and more. Then, you can choose from a wide variety of 3rd party integrations, to pull in Google Docs and Giphy gifs and more, or script your own chatbots by hand or using integrations tools like Zapier. Then, just type a command, and your bots can pull in info on customers, products and more directly into your conversations.
For enterprise users, another great reason to choose HipChat is that it offers a self-hosted version. This gives you the ability to use your existing Active Directory identity services, and keep a close eye on security with all of your data behind your own firewall. Both versions of HipChat are focused on security—whether you're using the hosted or self-hosted versions, you can view detailed conversation history, set storage limits for files, export data, and more. Or, if you want to bring someone else into a chat—say, a freelancer or partner you're working with on a specific project—you can add them with guest access so they can access only one conversation, but can't see anything else your team is talking about.
It's that level of customization that makes HipChat stand out from other team chat apps. It's as simple to use as other new team chat apps, but with security features and self-hosted options that let your IT team run it the way you want. It'll centralize your team's communications, keep them secure, and still let you have fun with emojis and gifs. And with chatbots that connect to the rest of your tools, you might find yourself using HipChat for a suprising amount of your workday.
Originally published March 7, 2016; updated with note about discontinuation April 19, 2018.