Google is reportedly gearing up to take on the likes of Slack and Microsoft with a new business-first mobile communications app, built specifically for businesses.
According to a report by The Information, Google is planning to combine several of its standalone tools, including Gmail and Drive, to create a “unified” service.
The app is expected to also include messaging platforms — most likely Hangouts Meet, Google’s video conferencing app, and Hangouts Chat, a direct Slack competitor.
Under the current plans, the new app will be part of Google’s cloud-based applications collection G Suite, which also includes Docs, Calendar and Sheets.
According to The Information, inside sources said the unnamed app is in its testing phase, with Google’s cloud unit chief executive Thomas Kurian presenting it to business partners and internal salespeople at Google’s mid-January conference.
Development of the all-in-one solution follows last year’s first-ever price hike for G Suite Business and G Suite Basic, bringing it roughly in line with the price of the service’s biggest rival, Microsoft Office 365 Business Essentials.
At the time, Google defended the price increase, saying it was a necessary cost to implement new tools and integrate AI technology, which it said tripled the value of its offering.
Google originally planned to shut down Hangouts, the predecessor to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, in October last year. However, it reversed course in August, saying it would instead allow business users to use the tool until June this year.
Updates to Hangouts Meet may also integrate elements of Google Voice, a voicemail texting service that, despite reports of Google’s plans to kill it, still exists.