Pulse vs. Zapier: Which is the best Slack app for automating your online status?

Slack has emerged as one of the most critical tools to facilitate workplace communication.

As Slack’s popularity rises, so do the number of apps that can integrate with it. Today, we’re looking at two popular options that enhance Slack’s online status indicator with automatic status updates: Pulse and Zapier. Let’s dive deeper to learn more about these two Slack apps and help answer which of these Slack apps is right for your team.

Why should you automate your Slack status?

Slack indicates when users come online, step away, or are offline via a status indicator. Like many online communication tools  In the case of Slack, shown below, this indicator is found next to users’ profiles in the Slack sidebar.

Slack Active and Away status

Slack also allows users to set custom statuses for when users are on vacation, at lunch, or any message they’d like to share with their team when they are away from their desks. 

While these status capabilities are helpful, they don’t provide much context about teammates’ availability.   After all, ‘Active’ simply means that the teammate is actively connected and using their desktop computer or mobile device — what it doesn’t convey is if they have just come online for non-working purposes; are focused in a deep work state where any interruptions could pull them out of focus and impact their productivity; have a meeting coming up in the next few minutes; and so many other insights that would be helpful to know in determining if know is a good time for them to receive an inbound message.  Enter tools like Zapier and Pulse that are reimagining Slack status into a more accurate signal of teammates’ availability. 

About Zapier

Zapier is a leading tool for automation in the workplace. Using customizable rules known as Zaps, Zapier allows you to set up workflows with the programs you use one by one. Zapier integrates with many different apps, including Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Mailchimp, and other services.

For Slack, users with the technical skills can create Zaps based on their routine workflow.  Once created, these workflows will automatically change your Slack status to let your coworkers know when you’re in a meeting or away from your desk or in a supported application file. This is a helpful way to indicate your current work state to your team without having to explicitly and frequently change your status to reflect what project you’re working on, a task that would not be productive.

Screenshot of Zapier integrating Slack with a spreadsheet

About Pulse

Pulse is a simple “set it and forget it” app. It works in the background to automatically update your status based on how you configure it.  It can automatically update your status to share when you’re working in a specific work app like email, slides, designing, etc.; when you’re on vacation; have a doctor’s appointment in your shared calendar; are in a meeting, and even can automatically adjust to display that you are ‘focusing’ based on your state of a workflow to reduce interruptions.  Slack recognized this feature as a winner of the 2022 Slackathon, competing with over 500 Slack apps. 

Pulse uses a combination of AI and your configured rules to change your Slack status automatically. It integrates with your calendar; over 200 supported business apps are available to automate your status, set work hours, and automatically update your status throughout the workday without any manual effort.  It’s also noteworthy that Pulse can display multiple statuses simultaneously.

Pulse vs. Zapier Focus Time 

Focus time is key for both teams and individuals to produce their best work.  But with most workplace tools, particularly with notification-heavy interactions like Slack, finding a state of deep focus can be harder than ever to achieve. Workers must minimize interruptions so they can engage in deep work.  Here’s how Zapier and Pulse help users find more focus time in Slack.

How does Zapier handle Focus Time? 

Zapier currently does not support automatic focus. Users can create a workflow that updates their Slack status to display a custom message like “Focusing” when they are using a set application.  Example: show my status as “Focusing” when in the Figma application. 

How does Pulse handle Focus Time? 

Pulse makes it seamless to achieve focus by updating your Slack status in real-time to let coworkers know when you’re available to collaborate and when you are heading down.  Pulse uses keyboard and/or mouse activity mixed with time and activity-based rules that signal you are deep in focus.  It works automatically to create your status as ‘Focusing’ and reduce interruptions from teammates.  Users can also set rules around their calendar event titles that move them to a focused state whenever these calendared events occur. 

Pulse vs. Zapier Hybrid work – Working from a location

Hybrid work has seen an increased demand for Slack apps that let users share where they are working from on any given day.  Knowing teammates are working from home or in the office helps teammates better connect for in-person moments, and knowing whereabouts keeps hybrid work teams more connected.  Let’s look at how these tools automatically let users share where they are working from.  

How does Zapier handle working from an office or home location?

Not supported. 

How does Pulse handle working from an office or home location?

Pulse has a ‘working from location’ feature called ‘Places’ that lets users define any number of working locations and represent them with a name and emoji. Whenever you enter or exit one of your created locations, Pulse updates your status.  Pulse never discloses your actual location but instead sets a perimeter around the location, which can be as sensitive as 300 ft up to 5 miles.

Pulse vs. Zapier Setting up Automatic Status in Slack

When it comes to setting up status automation, these tools differ from each other.  Let’s dive into the key differences below: 

Zapier Automatic Status Setup

Zapier setup requires a bit of technical know-how and relies on the user to select and integrate the apps they’d like incorporated into their Slack status.  Zapier supports one app status at a time to be shown within the user’s displayed status. 

Pulse Automatic Status Setup

Pulse’s setup experience is optimized for automating your Slack status. It utilizes a step-by-step onboarding process where you can configure dozens of status sharing options beyond the calendar and apps, including working hours, time zone, availability preferences, meeting detection, working location, and much more.  

Pulse offers a long list of app integrations with Slack.

How does Zapier Update Your Slack Status via Calendar

Zapier can automatically update your Slack status based on your Google Calendar to let your team know when you’re in a meeting. To do so, you have to create a Zap which, as mentioned above, can be a bit of a technical process. You can also set other general Slack rules, such as sending Slack reminders of upcoming calendar events. 

How does Pulse Update Your Slack Status via Calendar

Pulse offers calendar assistance by scanning your Google or Outlook Calendar and automatically updating your Slack status based on common keywords such as ‘Lunch,’ ‘Dinner,’ ‘Gym,’ and more. This keeps your team informed without you needing to configure anything.  Pulse also allows for calendar rules that let users customize the message and emoji shown when set keywords are used in the calendar event title.  

Screenshot of Pulse integration automatically with Slack calendar
Pulse setting Slack status with rules based on calendar titles

Pulse Pricing vs. Zapier Pricing

When it comes to pricing, Pulse offers individual and team-based pricing.  Pulse has a free tier (available for teams less than 5 users in size), and then moves to $3/mo/user.  If your team is larger than 50 users, they provide custom pricing.  Pulse does not have any limitation to the number of integrations users can connect to.

A key item to know regarding Zapier pricing is that the tiers include criteria for how fast Zapier sends updates integration updates to Slack for status updates.  These increments are 15 minute delay in the base pricing (which is not ideal for communication-based, time-sensitive status needs).  To get closer to real-time (1 minute delay), users need to be in the Teams pricing tier which starts at $299/mo.  The pricing is also based on the number of integrations or zaps supported.

Pulse vs. Zapier: Which Is Best?

Both Pulse and Zapier are great tools for Slack to automate your status and protect your focus time. But if you’re choosing between Pulse vs. Zapier, it’s important to remember that Pulse is optimized for this, but Zapier is a general tool.

It differs from Zapier in several ways, including its ease of setting up status automation; which requires novice technical skills and user-friendly status settings.