Google and Slack deepen partnership in the face of Microsoft Teams

The move will bring deeper integration between Google Drive and Slack

slack icon
Credit: Martyn Williams

Slack and Google have vastly deepened their partnership roughly a month after Microsoft announced its competitor to the popular enterprise chat service.

Wednesday saw the announcement of several new features aimed at making G Suite, Google’s set of productivity software and services, more useful to people who use Slack. The functionality resulting from the partnership will make it easier to share and work on files stored in Google Drive using Slack.

Slack and Google were early partners during the lifecycle of the chat service which gives business users a set of rooms where they can discuss work, share files and more. Microsoft recently announced Teams, a similar service integrated into Office 365 that’s currently in beta.

A representative for Slack said via email that Microsoft’s introduction of a competitive product that is expected to become generally available next year didn’t have an impact on the company’s decision to deepen its integration with Google.

But one way or another, the partnership has clear benefits for both companies. Slack becomes more useful for G Suite users, and Google gets to make its productivity suite a more attractive offering to those organizations that want to use Slack.

In a thoroughly modern turn, Google is building a Drive Bot, which will inform users about changes to a file, and let them approve, reject and settle comments in Slack, rather than opening Google Docs. It goes along with Slack’s continuing embrace of bots as a key part of the chat service’s vision of productivity.

When users share a file from Drive in Slack, the chat service will check the sharing permissions on the file and make sure that it’s set up so that everyone in a channel can access what’s being shared. If the settings don’t match, users will be asked to modify them.

To go along with that, users will be able to associate Team Drive folders with particular Slack channels. That means the Marketing folder for members of the marketing team inside a company can also be linked to the team’s Slack channel.

When users upload files to a Slack channel with a linked Team Drive, the files will be backed up inside Google’s cloud storage service. When Team Drive files get changed, users will be notified using Slack.

In addition, Google and Slack are working together to give users access to previews of Google Docs that they share in Slack, so it’s possible for people to see inside a file at a glance without having to open it.

It’s not yet clear when all of this functionality will be making its way into Slack, however. The chat service startup will let users sign up for notifications about the forthcoming updates here.

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