Slack expands Google partnership with new Google Drive integrations

Google Docs and Drive were among the earliest Slack integrations and remain among the most popular, according to Slack.

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Slack's push to become the de facto communications portal in the enterprise workflow got a boost on Wednesday, with the announcement of an expanded partnership with Google Cloud.

The workplace collaboration platform said the latest tie-up is a continuation of a long established alliance -- Google Docs and Drive were among the earliest Slack integrations and remain among the most popular, with some 60,000 Drive files imported in Slack every weekday.

With the new integrations, Slack is bringing the Google Drive permission process into Slack, adding in-channel preview displays, connecting the new Google Team Drives to channels, and creating new bots to manage notifications and comments.

With permissions, Slack is making it easier to share Drive files with people in a selected channel. So now if any channel members were not granted access to a particular Drive file, Slack will issue a warning and then a prompt to update sharing settings. With previews, Slack said it's working with the Google Docs team make it so that any files and docs shared from Google Drive will have a native preview window in Slack.

As for the new Team Drives integration, Slack says it's enabling channels to be synced with Team Drive, which will help admins keep content and conversations in sync. Content uploaded to Slack will be backed up to a Team Drive, and Team Drive updates will be shared in Slack. Slack will also provide an option to use a Team Drive as the main data store for any files uploaded to Slack, for those looking for advanced cloud storage controls.

Finally, Google Drive is building a Slack bot, which will use dedicated message buttons to alert users when comments and requests for access come through the channel, allowing them to reject and settle comments either directly from Slack or within Google Docs.

"For teams that use Slack and Google Drive together, including Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, comments and requests for access can sometimes languish in email notifications," wrote Slack in a blog post. "Now those notifications will arrive where you're already working -- inside Slack, via the Google Drive bot."

Slack recently announced a partnership with IBM to add Watson's cognitive computing capabilities to chatbots and other conversational inferences to the Slack platform. That could mean the next iteration of the Slack bot will incorporate parts of Watson's conversational technology.

There's no official timeline for the new integrations, but Slack said it's aiming for a release date in the first half of 2017.

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