Google Drive will soon be updated with new social features. They're set to roll out over the next day or two according to Google.
The changes to Drive essentially make it easier to monitor and identify who is collaborating on a project. You can also communicate with anyone editing a document, without actually leaving Drive. This allows you to work in a group setting and contribute cooperatively on a project, or document.
When several people are editing a document, Drive will now show profile photos for anyone connected. More specifically, it imports data from Google+. If a user does not have a profile photo or Google+ profile, then they can choose from several unique animal sketches for identification. In case you're wondering, that includes a monkey, alligator and more.
A group chat button has been added to the top right corner of documents in Drive. Obviously, this allows you to start a group chat with anyone that's working on a particular document or file. It's possible that this is an early implementation of Google's upcoming Babel messaging service, which is ultimately supposed to unite users across multiple Google platforms with all-inclusive messaging support.
Also, when you hover over a photo in Drive you will now be presented with contact details and shortcuts to some Google+ actions, like "add to circles." The key here is that Google is making it easier to stay connected to one another, provided everyone involved makes ample use of Google's services.
One thing that has long bothered me about proprietary features like this is that it often ignores the folks you collaborate with that don't use Google services by default. It's possible for users to collaborate through Drive or a single Google service because their work requires them to do so. In that case, it would be nice to see other social networks supported. Before I stray too far off topic, let's get back to the Drive update.
This new update to Drive is likely a response to Dropbox, which recently launched social features for their own service. It's no secret that Dropbox is Google's biggest competitor- if not the only one.
Have you had a chance to try out the new social features in Google Drive? What do you think?