Google has finally introduced its Google Drive, an online storage facility. Google Drive offers a free storage space of 5 GB to its users. Unlike its other services, Google Drive isn’t in beta but is available to everyone who wants to use it (although the service is currently on a gradual geographic roll-out).
Google Drive competes with other similar services like Dropbox, Box, SugarSync and Microsoft’s SkyDrive. Evernote competes with the rest, albeit partially. There are subtle differences between these services but Google Drive seems to be arriving at the right time.
For starters, Google Drive offers 5 GB free space. You can buy more space. You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for US$ 2.49/month, 100GB for US$ 4.99/month or even 1TB for US$ 49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.
More Than Just Storage
Google Drive offers 3 features:
- Creation and collaboration,
- Anywhere access and search.
When we say search it’s not just for text alone. Google Drive comes with Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which will help in searching text in a scanned image.
Google has been rather modest in its blog post announcing the launch of Drive. All your Google Docs are immediately turned into Google Drive files neatly arranged into folders. When you download the Google Drive desktop app (around 700 kb – I like lightweight apps), you can access all your Google docs from your Windows Explorer.
Beyond the docs, you can copy your PDF files or image files and the sync from your desktop starts immediately and will appear online almost immediately (depends on your speed though).
For someone who have been a Google Docs user, Google Drive is a logical extension. The interface is clean and there is hardly any learning curve. If you start using Google Drive, you will never go back to Google Docs. It sounds as if your Google Docs has now become your Google Drive but you won’t realize the full potential until you downloaded the desktop or the Android app. Looks like the Android app is inching towards 1 million downloads [5 million downloads as of publishing -Ed]. Google Drive’s usage would hit the roof when an iOS app comes out.
Yet another feature of Google Drive is its extensibility. If Google has just stopped at the storage and search, it would have been just one more thing from Google which is an also-ran.
You can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+, and soon you’ll be able to attach stuff from Drive directly to emails in Gmail. Drive is also an open platform, so we’re working with many third-party developers so you can do things like send faxes, edit videos andcreate website mockups directly from Drive.
Mindmeister a mind mapping app is now integrated with Google Drive. All your mind maps will be in one place and you can get to them with the most familiar interface of all: Google Search. Look for more apps at the Chrome Store.
For early adopters, Google Drive means one more service to use. Power users would now need an aggregator which can stitch all of these together, kind of If this then that (IFTTT) service which can basically program tasks. An integration with Evernote and Pocket would be nice too.
Google’s integration with third-party apps and the fact that you can use Google Drive as your hard drive and run several apps over it is pointing towards a WebOS feature powered by Google.
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