Earlier this week, Google introduced Google Drive, a free cloud-storage system for Google users. Users get 5GB storage for free and can buy up to 1TB through monthly subscriptions.
Many years ago, when Gmail started, a Gdrive always seemed imminent. There was even a “g-drive” extension for Firefox, which turned a Gmail account into an online hard drive--except all the files were split into 25MB parts, limiting its usefulness. It also was an independent geek creation, not an official Google product.
Now, seven years later, Google is releasing Drive in an already full marketplace. Besides the biggest competitor--Dropbox--Microsoft also has an offering, Skydrive (they updated it just before Google’s Drive announcement). What makes Google Drive different is Google has made it seamless with their Google Docs service (though users can opt out of Docs syncing). Anyone who has used Docs should be able to navigate the Drive file system online--on a computer, it’s as easy as dropping and dragging a file.
Setting it apart from Dropbox, besides offering more free space, are some conversion features. Google Drive can convert Microsoft Office documents into Google Docs formats, making them easily web-editable. Maybe more exciting to non-Docs users is Google Drive’s ability to stream media, which Dropbox and Skydrive do not offer in the same functionality.
Google has already released a Drive app for Android and an iPhone and iPad version should be coming soon, but Google Docs-enabled iPhone apps can access the Drive and its files (thanks to Google building on Docs). It also works well in the web browser interface on devices.
With Google Drive, Google has filled an important niche--cloud file storage for regular people (of course, it helps if you’re already familiar with Google products). Dropbox is geekier, especially as it powers a lot of file syncing features in mobile and computer applications. Skydrive is far less geeky and Apple’s offering, iCloud, doesn’t encourage user access to files. It’s mostly for app developers.
Obviously, lots of websites have been writing about Google Drive. Here are a couple good articles to start....
- Wired : Hands On With Google Drive: Cloud Storage for Google Loyalists
- The Verge : Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox?
If you find anything else awesome Google Drive can do--I just tested the video streaming and was very impressed--let us know in the comments.