Google’s G Suite makes is super simple to create documents, spreadsheets, slides and forms from within a web browser, but also to share those files with others. However, sharing comes with one big caveat: whoever you share the files with needs to have a Google account. If they don’t, they can’t view or edit those files. That’s changing, though.
Google announced this week that the requirement of a Google account turns out to be a “significant barrier for collaboration” for its office suite. It becomes a problem for businesses using G Suite when one or more of their clients or partners don’t already use Google’s services. To fix this problem, Google is relaxing the rules for file access by introducing a new pincode identity verification process.
The new system is in beta for now, but allows anyone who doesn’t have a Google account to view, comment, and edit Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files with the permission of the owner. Access is granted by the files’ owner using a pincode the non-Googler enters at a shared URL. Entering the correct code unlocks access to the file(s). The file owner has access to a detailed activity breakdown for the files they share so it’s easy to view a complete history of who accessed each file and what changed.
If you’re an existing G Suite-using company you can sign up to take part in the beta by filling out an online form requesting access. There’s no guarantee of access to the beta, and you’ll have to let Google whitelist one of your non-G Suite domains to allow sharing with non-Google users, but it’s worth submitting the form if you’re interested.
Unless the feedback from the beta is mostly negative, it seems likely the pincode verification feature will quickly be rolled out to all G Suite companies. It makes sense for Google to do this as it removes a barrier to non-Google users and offers up an opportunity for them to experience G Suite’s tools and consider signing up themselves.