New Early Adopter Programs: Team Drive and improved Hangouts meetings

Early adopter programs in the tech industry are a win-win for everyone. Software vendors get a chance to release their carefully curated products to a controlled group of customers who promise to provide feedback, and businesses large and small get a chance to cut to the front of the line for new product releases.

Google releases early adopter programs frequently and makes them accessible to anyone interested. Late last month, the company announced two more to the list: one for Drive and one for Hangouts. As long as you’re already a G Suite (formerly Apps for Work) customer, all it takes is a quick signup form and you’re thrust into the driver’s seat of some of Google’s most innovative and exclusive features.

Team Drive

Although Google Drive is generally recognised as the platform that stores Docs, Sheets, and Slides from the company’s suite of cloud-based productivity software, it’s important to remember that Drive actually stores anything. All users have 30GB of space to house virtually anything they want: photos, videos, G Suite documents, Microsoft Office documents — anything.

But even though Google has been adding enterprise features to their cloud storage platform for years, Drive has always targeted individuals. Streamlined as they may be, file ownership and sharing features start with document creators and spread with the invitation of individual collaborators. Thankfully, in addition to some renaming and restructuring, G Suite will finally allow for the creation of a Team Drive.

For those who sign up for the Team Drive Early Adopter Program, files stored in Drive can be assigned to teams. Anything stored in a Team Drive will be automatically accessible by everyone included within defined organisational departments, and Google has promised that while teams will share one Drive location, the level of access granted to individual users can be adjusted for fine tuning.

From the moment a new member is added to whenever they leave the team, that individual’s team-based documents and the access rights granted to those files stay exactly where they are. If the employee that has been creating monthly budget reports for the past two years leaves the company, those reports remain in the Team Drive where the rest of the department can still access them, even after he or she leaves.

Hangouts video

Google’s business-focused communication service, Hangouts, already handles everything from instant messaging and video calls to cellular text messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s a great way to facilitate unified communication throughout your entire organisation, but it still tethers companies to its software platform to enjoy teleconferences. Those that sign up for the Early Adopter Program, however, get the first glimpse of Google’s attempt at an unshackled Hangouts experience.

The early adopter version of Hangouts portends the ability to invite anyone to your meetings — free of the software requirements that currently hinder the service. Your meetings will come with a link and a dial-in number for participants to join the meeting in whatever capacity they fancy. Once your meeting is started, you have screen sharing tools, G Suite calendar integration, and capacity for 50 video-based participants.

The link directs desktop and data-enabled mobile users to a website with full hangouts capabilities, sans download, driver, or plugin requirements. Participants who prefer a voice-only experience or are without a data connection can call the phone number Google provides to make sure they don’t miss a thing.

Between these two early adopter programs released during the G Suite announcement and the Sites early adopter program from last month, Google is working hard to include your input on which direction its enterprise services take. We’re huge proponents of joining Google developer programs before they go public, and we can’t recommend enough that you sign up for one or both of these programs. However, if you’re not quite convinced, or have any questions we didn’t answer here — get in touch with us today and we’ll talk it over.