The long rumored overarching cloud service from Google is finally ready to launch: Google Drive, partially a new service and partially a rebranding of Google Docs, has begun rolling out to the public. While PC users may find they have to wait in line to download the program, Android owners might have already noticed their Docs app replaced by Drive on their phones or tablets. Apple fans, unfortunately, will need to hold off a bit longer to try it out, as the iOS versions of the new cloud are still under development.
So what does all this mean for the average computer user? Well, with any cloud service one can upload files from one source (e.g. a laptop, tablet, or desktop) and retrieve them from any other device that supports the program. Similar services such as Dropbox and Box already function with most popular operating systems (though neither has an app for Windows Phone and Box takes a bit of work to run in Linux), allowing one to simply drag a file into an icon on their desktop and pick it back up anywhere else.
Like these other clouds, Google Drive makes it easy to share media, PDF’s, word documents, spreadsheets and just about any other file between personal devices or with other people. The service is also free up to a certain point—5GB, in this case—with the option to expand storage for a set cost. 25GB can be utilized for a monthly fee of $2.49, 100GB is available at $4.99 per month, and an entire terabyte of storage can be had at $49.99 per month.
That the cost of extra capacity is competitive with clouds which launched before Google’s latest product probably won’t convince many users to abandon services they are already employing, however, the Internet software powerhouse has been sure to give itself a few advantages over its competition. For starters, a single file uploaded to Drive can occupy up to a whopping 10GB of space (a limit far outpacing many other clouds), and anyone with a paid account will also find their Gmail storage expanded from the standard 10GB limit to 25GB. Being a sort of upgrade to Google’s document suite, Drive also has the added benefit of being able to instantly save any changes made within a Google doc as they are made, eliminating yet one more step in the process of creating, storing, and sharing files.
As was already the case, Google docs can be shared with other users on a view-only basis or as a collaboration, allowing anyone with access to edit and add to the project at hand. Other files in the cloud can also be shared between people, but changes made to Google documents will appear instantly for all users, requiring no additional work on the users’ part. With all of these features already available Drive could stand to make some serious headway into the cloud market, though it wouldn’t be very Google-like to just sit back and leave a good service be; the company is already promising that Drive will expand from its inceptive state with new features and integration into other apps (in fact, several such apps can already be used with Drive).
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