Google Drive, which lets you share files online, now makes it easier to chat with and work with collaborators on a shared file or document. And do it real time.
We’ve been playing around with the new features a bit the last few days here at Small Business Trends. While they may seem like small changes, we think they add a lot to the give and take of the collaboration process among small business teams. Here’s what’s changed:
First, the profile photos of the other person or persons who are working on documents with you in a session are now visible along the top of the screen. Previously, collaborators were designated by a little colored square. You had to click on the square to see the person’s name.
The new photo enhancement feels a lot more like Facebook chat, or similar experiences, because you can see the other person’s picture. When you click on the person’s picture, it opens up a box with their Google+ profile. You can even add them to your Google+ circles right from that box or see if you are already connected to them. This is great for networking with people you may be meeting for the first time or are not yet connected with them on Google+.
The second enhancement is that you can open up a chat session with another collaborator right there in the document. A little chat window pops up when you click the chat icon next to the profile photos. That way, everyone in the session can converse quickly and efficiently as you’re editing or making other changes to a document or file.
Of course, you always had the alternative to open another application like Google Talk or Skype chat and run it in a separate screen while in the Google Drive session. But if you were not connected with the person in one of those other services, you had to take time to connect first. On top of that, you would have had to have multiple applications open or glance back and forth between screens.
Having the new chat feature built right into Google Drive certainly streamlines the process.
Google announced these new updates to Google Drive last week and it took several days to roll out to all users.
And also writing on the Google+ page for Google Drive, Software Engineer Eric Zhang says that anonymous users will now be identified in a collaboration group with animal icons.
For small business teams that are collaborating, the Google Drive enhancements offer a more efficient way to work with partners and co-workers.
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