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Google Drive gets more social with chat and profile photos

Google Drive gets more social with chat and profile photos

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Google Drive got a handful of new social features today, with an update that brings profile photos and group chat to the collaboration software.

The changes are designed to make it easier to see who's in a file and communicate with them without leaving it. Profile photos of anyone who has opened a particular file will now appear whenever multiple people are collaborating on a document. (Users without photos can select from a variety of animal drawings, including a monkey and an alligator.) A new chat button at the top-right corner lets you start a group chat about the document from inside Drive, a nod toward messaging ahead of the oft-rumored Babel that could be announced by Google next month.

Meanwhile, the march of Google+ across the product line continues into Drive, as hovering over a photo brings up your colleague's contact details and an invitation to add them to a circle on Google+. It comes as Dropbox — arguably Google Drive's biggest competitor — has signaled social ambitions of its own, adding new features around photo sharing and management.

The new features will roll out over the next day or two, Google said.

Update: Google has also announced that users can now create and edit drawings in Drive even while offline, and all files, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides will automatically be available offline if Drive has been set up to work offline.