Google’s long-awaited cloud storage service, Google Drive, has finally launched, and any frequent user of Google Docs should be chomping at the bit to take it for a spin.
Users will initially get 5 GB of free storage on Google Drive. The desktop and mobile app works in much the same way as Dropbox (dragging and dropping to store files), but Google Drive really shines when you use its browser app. Google Drive is well-integrated with all of Google’s online products, something that will only continue to increase in the future. Google Docs will eventually be completely merged with Google Drive, taking advantage of Drive’s enhanced sharing and collaboration features. Unfortunately, as of now, those native Google Docs files will still be opened in the browser, and must be converted if you want to open them in a word processor. Media files can’t be streamed from the cloud – the files will instead be downloaded to your computer before they begin to play.
The search features, as one would expect from Google, are top-notch. Besides the normal Google search goodness tearing through your files, search in Google Drive will feature optical character recognition (OCR), which can recognize text in PDFs and images and can identify some especially well-known places, like pictures of major landmarks.
Next comes pricing, which at some levels is lower than most other services. The first 5 GB will be free, followed by $2.49/month for 25 GB, $4.99/month for 100 GB, and $49.99/month for 1 TB. Anyone who opens a paid Google Drive account will automatically get an upgrade to 25 GB of storage in their Gmail account.
If you want, you can check out Google Drive now – it’s up and running. There are still a few tweaks to be worked out, like the lack of streaming options, but Google promises many updates to the fledgling service in the very new future.