It's no secret that Google has been amping up its efforts in the enterprise, especially regarding its collaboration and productivity tools in G Suite. At the 2017 Google Cloud Next conference on Thursday, the company revealed new features that could make G Suite a stronger competitor to options from Slack and Microsoft.
Prabhakar Raghavan, the vice president of apps for Google Cloud, started by unveiling the general availability of Team Drive, which began early access at the end of 2016. Team Drive builds on the general Google Drive product by adding secure management of permissions, ownership, and file access for an organization and its users.
A new Drive File Stream, announced as an early adopter program, will give employees access to more cloud storage from their desktop, without using hard drive space or requiring a long sync process, a blog post said. Raghavan also announced that Google had acquired AppBridge to help with data migrations for Google customers.
Hangouts, Google's video and text chat service, also got some updates at the conference. The new Hangouts Meet, now in general availability, will allow for up to 30 employees to join a video chat without plugins, the post said. It will also integrate with G Suite, so sharing files and images will be easier.
Hangouts Chat is Google's threaded-messages tool that looks much like a Slack competitor. It allows users to embed content in-line, and it also works with tools from companies like Asana, Box, and Zendesk, the post said. It is available in an early adopter program.
Also announced in the presentation was Gmail Add-ons, which will allow developers to more easily bring third-party applications into Gmail. Once developers write an integration, the post said, it can be deployed by admins across a host of platforms.
One of the big themes of Google Cloud Next 2017, overall, has been the deployment of machine learning across multiple Google products and services. Google Drive's Quick Access uses machine learning to surface the most relevant content when a user searches, and it will also now work on Team Drives on mobile. Machine Learning will also be coming to the Hangouts Chat service in the form of a bot called @meet, which will help to simplify and automate meeting scheduling.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- Google announced a host of new G Suite features at its Google Cloud Next conference that could make the tools more competitive to Slack and Office 365.
- Tools like Team Drives and Hangouts Chat could help improve collaboration and productivity, as they integrate with other G Suite products as well.
- Google continues to invest in machine learning as it adds a meeting scheduler bot and uses the technology to improve search in Drive.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.