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Google employs super clever rich people to basically rip off Slack

Discovers IRC, puts a suit on Hangouts, touts $5k whiteboard and more

People using a Google Jamboard

Google Next '17 Google hopes to further invade the worlds of teleconference and business chat with a set of new offerings.

The Mountain View ads broker unveiled new hardware and software today that will take on the likes of Slack and Cisco Spark. Dubbed Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, the services will allow a collection of users – such as a business unit or product team – to link up for group messages and conduct remote meetings.

The additions are part of a not-so-subtle effort by Google to further push the Hangouts and Drive services as serious enterprise tools. Google is hoping that with people already familiar with the services it offers to normies – Allo and Duo – and its cloud growing as an enterprise platform, companies will be inclined to take up G-Suite and Hangouts as well.

As the name implies, Meet is aimed at the teleconferencing market. The service, out now, lets up to 30 users in multiple locations conduct video calls over IP and share G-Suite documents or images with the group. In addition to desktops and notebooks, Google is making iOS and Android Apps for Meet and the service also allows call-ins from landline phones.

To help flog the Meet service, Google is pushing out its own take on the smart whiteboard device. The Jamboard screen lets users draw up notes or diagrams and then share them directly through Meet. The giant fondleslab is slated to launch in May, and it will cost $4,999 up front with another $600 "management and support" bill due annually.

For those looking for text-only chat, Google is floating the Hangouts Chat service. That offering, currently being tested in the Early Adopter Program, allows groups of users to message and share G-Suite files with one another securely. Google says it is going to integrate with Box, Zendesk and Asana to allow users to embed and share files from those services as well.

Meanwhile, the Drive service has been overhauled to better support group use. The Team Drives feature lets G-Suite users create shared drives for documents and files, while Drive File Stream lets users open documents directly from the desktop and the Vault archiving tool has additional controls for compliance and retention requirements.

Team Drives and Vault are currently live, while File Stream is in Early Adopter Program testing. ®

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