Slack to deepen integration with Google Drive, in face of Microsoft Teams debut

G Suite users will be able to pair Google's Team Drive with Slack channels, and use bots to approve file-sharing requests from within Slack

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Martyn Williams

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

Today 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.

A representative for Slack said that Microsoft’s introduction of a competitive product (Microsoft Teams) 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 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.

Google is building Drive Bot, which will inform users about changes to a file stored on Google Drive, 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 make its way into Slack, however.