Google adds Slack integration to G Suite
PHOTO: Google

Google has added five new productivity features to its G Suite of apps, including Slack integration for Google Docs and Drive.

The handful of enhancements are designed to help G-Suite users work more efficiently and easily, according to a blog post by Google Product Manager Ryan Weber.

Docs, for instance, will intelligently suggest an Action Item to assign to the right person through the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP). Users will see a badge on any files with Action Items assigned to them, plus any unresolved suggestions that others have made to their files.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google is also infusing Forms with machine-learning, which enables it to predict the type of question you’re asking and suggest potential responses and adding more ways to format and customize content with voice commands.

Finally, the Slack integration allows users to bring files from Drive directly into a Slack conversation. They can also create new Docs, Sheets and Slides files right from Slack. “Every Google Drive file you share in Slack is automatically indexed and searchable, so you can tap into your team’s collective knowledge and quickly find past conversations and files,” a blog post from the Slack team reads.

Microsoft Offers Premium Outlook Accounts

Microsoft is offering Outlook.com users the chance to personalize their accounts. The Redmond, Wash. based tech giant is offering a premium version of its email service that disables ads and reintroduces the possibility of custom domains, an option Microsoft removed in 2014.

The premium accounts will cost $19.95 annually during a promotion, and increase to $49.99 per year after it ends. The initial offer is restricted to the US and there is no support for other functions like groups and auto forwarding at the moment.

This is still a preview version so it’s possible that there will be glitches.  It is also worth noting that this is not a replacement for the free Outlook.com which will remain in place. Neither is it clear how far Microsoft intends to go with this and wither it intends to offer it globally.

Virgin Launches 'Digital Detox'

Virgin Management, the London-based management company owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, is giving its employees a two-hour email break once a week.

During the Digital Detox each Wednesday, all email services shut down. The move is designed to encourage employees to shift attention away from the inbox.

It's "a great way to encourage people to talk with one another, share ideas, innovate and spend time away from their desks. Digitalization and flexible working has fantastic benefits but we want to help our people balance this,” Josh Bayliss, CEO of Virgin Management, said in a statement.

Digital Detox applies to 200 employees at Virgin Management based in the New York and London offices. 

Facebook Adds To Instant Articles

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Facebook is adding 360 video and 360 photos — which give users a way to immerse themselves in places and situations — to Instant Articles.

Publishers will be able to offer both 360 video and 360 photos in-line, which users can navigate through their mobile devices or by tapping and dragging. Each Instant Article can contain multiple 360 photos and videos. 

In blog post about the addition Facebook Product Manage Josh Roberts said users can currently use this feature on iOS or Android.

Facebook plans to introduce more interactive features in Instant Articles in the next few months.

Facebook has great expectations for Instant Articles. Earlier this month, it offered a way for publishers to monetize their content.  As blog post by Harshit Agarwal, Product Manager at Instant Articles, explained:

"We now support larger and flexible ad units in Instant Articles, up to an aspect ratio of 2:3. Publishers can bring more of their direct sold campaigns to Instant Articles, including custom, premium formats," he said.