Google Cloud customers will soon get more functionality from chat platform Slack, as the two companies announced new features and a deeper integration as part of a strategic partnership revealed Wednesday in a blog post. The new functionality–set to launch in the first half of 2017–will include updates to Google Drive, G Suite management, Slack channels, and a new bot as well.

According to the post, “millions of Google Drive files are shared in Slack each month,” which prompted the two companies to seek out new ways to improve how they work with one another. One of the biggest announcements is that Google Docs will soon be available to preview in Slack, the post said. That may not seem like a big deal, but being able to preview Docs shared in Slack could greatly improve productivity for business users who work primarily in Google’s G Suite apps.

G Suite administrators will also be getting the ability to provision Slack directly from the G Suite admin console. New and existing Slack customers will get access to this capability, the post said, which could improve user manageability and make it easier to provision new accounts.

SEE: Slack: The smart person’s guide

Another major update will be the addition of a new Slack bot for Google Drive, simply called the Google Drive Bot, the post said. While working in Slack, users will receive notifications on Google Docs or Sheets, for example, and will be able to approve, reject, and settle comments from the Slack channel, and answer requests for access.

To further integrate corporate Google Drive accounts with corporate Slack accounts, users will now be able to connect their Slack channels with Team Drives, which the blog post described as “new shared spaces for teams to store files.” Any file uploaded to that connected channel will then be backed up in the Team Drive, the post said. Additionally, updates in Team Drive will be shared in Slack and Team Drives will be able to be used as a data store for files uploaded to Slack, if the user so desires.

The new partnership is also bringing new permission-checking capabilities as well. When a user attempts to share a file with a given Slack channel, Slack will check if each user in the channel has access to the file. If not, the user will not be able to share the file and will be asked to update their shared settings, the post said.

The updates come at a pivotal time for Slack, as Microsoft recently announced its competitive messaging product, Teams, which offers deep Office 365 integration. Slack originally addressed the Teams launch in an open letter on its website.

Google’s part in this is also interesting, as the search giant launched its own messaging product, Spaces, back in May.

The partnership with Google comes less than a month after the announcement that Slack Enterprise will be launching sometime in early 2017–a move that could garner more attention for Slack from traditional enterprises and companies outside of Silicon Valley.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Google and Slack are partnering to bring deeper integrations between the two brands and new features for users in early 2017.
  2. Existing Google users will be able to preview Docs in Slack, provision Slack from the G Suite admin console, utilize a new Google Drive Bot, and improve their permissions.
  3. Slack is preparing itself for battle with the recently-announced Microsoft Teams, which could overtake the messaging giant among more traditional enterprise IT teams.