It was a bit like waiting for Santa Claus but now Google fans have cause to rejoice – the fabled Google Drive has moved from myth to reality! And the reality ain’t too shabby (yes I said “ain’t”). So what’s it all about?
First, if you are a user of Google docs, you are going to love the integration of this cloud-based storage locker and your familiar Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations. It works as a local, syncing file system for both your Google application files as well as any other files you might want to store in the Cloud. You get 5GB of storage off the bat for free and you can by more at VERY reasonable prices – especially as you purchase larger increments. Paid plans start at $2.49 per month for 25GB and any paid plan automatically jumps up your Gmail storage to 25GB. For less than $60 per year, you can get 100GB. A whopping 16TB will cost $800 per month. Another place Google Drive shines is per file size 10 GB per file. And it is secured with the same security you find in the rest of the Google Apps suite.
The app launched yesterday for Windows, Mac and Android users. IOS users will have to wait but Google did out screenshots of the iPad app so we know it’s coming. Linux users are out of luck for now.
There is a local app to download that serves as the conduit to the cloud – Dropbox and Windows SkyDrive Users will recognize the setup. You won’t be able to edit your Google Docs locally – click on the file in your local computer’s file finder or manager and your browser will open for editing. You can see them locally though, and find them in local search. You can view, share and comment on docs from the local Drive – maybe local editing is coming down the road. In any event, because the “file” created in drive is fully synced across devices, you will see your changes everywhere – just watch for versioning issues when you collaborate on changes with others.
Drive will store many different file types, including images. And, as one would expect from Google, the search is great. Documents are OCR’d and there is even rudimentary image recognition via Google Goggles – at least for the most obvious of images. Videos uploaded in Drive are coded like YouTube videos – its like having your own private YouTube.
Because Google Drive opened up its API as soon as possible, there are several third party apps that can work with Drive from the start.
Google Drive is trying to straddle the line between cross platform and proprietary apps. It’s third party partners are numerous and likely will increase. However, editing can only be accomplished via Google Docs. Not a bad compromise – simply convert your other compatible files, such as Microsoft Office apps, into GDocs format and you are good to go. You will be able to share stuff directly from Drive to Google + and attach files directly to Gmail.
Google Drive is entering a crowded field of competitors jockeying for first place in the Run for the Roses (like the timely Derby reference?). The Verge does a great job outlining the competition here. If you are already a Google user, then Google Drive is a no-brainier. If not, why not use those free 5GB to good use? Might make a believer out of you.