Google has finally launched its online storage and collaboration service – Google Drive. The cloud-based service was expected much earlier from Google, but Google likely preferred to wait & watch before releasing its own contender into the arena. Drive will allow users to do a lot more than mere storage. Users can create, share, edit and collaborate with others using the service.
Drive includes a search facility that is integrated with the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature that scans text from images such as book pages and newspaper clippings. The company also has plans to bundle in a photo-search feature called Google Goggles but clarified that “the technology is only in its early stages and expected to get better with time”.
Drive offers free storage up to 5GB while it biggest rival in the space – Microsoft’s Skydrive offers free 7GB storage. But Drive’s other features more than make up for the shortfall. They also make it a contender for the top slot.
A key feature that Drive has, and others don’t, is Google Docs. Users can create and store documents using Google Docs which is also a feature in its email service. Users can work and collaborate on files like doc files, presentations and spreadsheets.
Once a document is created, it gets stored by default into Google Drive. If a stored content is shared with other users any changes, comments, etc. would be instantly updated in all the devices that are connected to the Drive. The user would also receive notifications of comments on content that is shared. The service supports as many as 30 different file types plus other Google services like Picasa, Google+ and Android would also be integrated.
The first version of Drive will have installable apps for all Windows-based and Mac PCs as well as Android-based devices such as smartphones.
Users who need more than 5GB storage space have the option to pay a monthly sum for additional space: @ $2.49 for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB and $49.99 for 1 terrabyte.
Among other online storage providers, Microsoft’s Skydrive offers free storage up to 7GB but does not have the other features that Drive offers. When Skydrive was newly launched users were promised free 25 GB storage; that was later curtailed to 7GB. However, if one’s usage already exceeds 4GB then one is still entitled to the promised 25GB storage for free. Skydrive’s rates also appear to be more competitive giving you 45GB @ $10 per year, 75GB @ $25 per year, and 125GB @ $50 per year.
But Drive’s charges are certainly comparable to its other nearest rival Dropbox which offers 50GB for a monthly charge of $9.99 and 100GB for $19.99. Dropbox offers only 2GB free storage.
IMHO, Google Drive will claim top slot in the coming months as it has all the strategic advantages. Microsoft’s Skydrive could give a tough fight but only if it brings more value-adds to outdo Drive.