Rumors about a file-sharing services sponsored by Google have been rampant the past few months, especially after Microsoft revamped SkyDrive last week. Google officially released GDrive this week, and so far, the reviews are so-so. Google products have been hit-and-miss lately, with the Buzz social network completely flopping and Google+ failing to live up to its Twitter and Facebook rivals. GDrive will have to be pretty special to usurp Box, Dropbox and SkyDrive in the cloud-storage arena.
On the surface, GDrive works much like your favorite cloud-storage services. It gives a moderate amount of free storage space—5 GB—and has fairly reasonable monthly payment plans for power users who need more than 5 GB of storage. Compared to Dropbox’s 2 GB of free storage, this seems like an upgrade. However, SkyDrive is now boasting 7 GB of free storage space. Like Dropbox and SkyDrive, files stored on GDrive are accessible from absolutely anywhere, and from most any mobile device. The similarities end there.
GDrive is designed to be more collaborative than its competitors. With Google Docs integration, GDrive makes collaboration seamless by allowing everyone with whom you have shared a file to work on the file together, in real time, with changes saved to the file across all devices simultaneously. It is literally like working on a file while sitting side-by-side in a conference room, but without the incessant chatter from the brown-nosing-manager-wannabes.
Other collaboration tools far outweigh those from the competitors. GDrive allows collaborators to leave messages about a file, and even allows you to turn back the clock to previous versions of a file—up to 30 days from when the change was made.
Besides integration with Google Docs, GDrive integrates with Google+ and Gmail. You can upload a photo to GDrive and instantly share it on Google+. You can upload a document to GDrive and send a link to the document to your Gmail contacts. Google plans to eventually integrate GDrive with most of our favorite Google applications.
No Google product is complete without advanced search features, and GDrive certainly does not disappoint. Not only can you search your files by keyword, you can also search images. GDrive has built-in object recognition capability (much like Google Goggles for the phone apps) and can even read text in photographs via OCR technology.
Google expects to allow the general public to access GDrive within the next few weeks. For now, you can sign up to be notified when GDrive is ready at the GDrive website. Paid accounts will start at $2.49 per month, and will include 25 GB of storage space. Paid users will also have an increase in their Gmail storage: 25 GB.