Hands On with Google Drive

After eons of speculations, rumours and what not, Google Drive has finally arrived! Direct competition to other cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, Skydrive and Box.net, with Google Drive, the company is aiming to, like with all its other products and services, grab top spot in this emerging and rapidly developing cloud space. It was launched yesterday and we did manage to grab a copy of Google Drive before it started showing the ‘Your Google Drive is not ready yet’ notification for most users. So, here are our initial impressions on what’s new with Google Drive.

As far as the web interface is concerned, Google Drive has straightaway replaced Google Docs, but besides the name, there’s not much that has been changed as of now. The web version of Google Drive also consists of a link where you can download the Google Drive application for your Mac or Windows PC so you can sync all your data across multiple devices and platforms. This also means that you don’t need to carry a separate installer or setup file and simply log in to your account to get the installer.

In the web interface, upon clicking upload, you’re greeted with your currently used and available storage, which is capped to 5GB for all free users at present. An option to buy more storage is available as well. 25GB is available at a price of $2.49 (approx Rs. 131) per month while 100GB is available at a price of $4.99 (approx Rs. 262) per month. Up to 16 TB of storage can be bought currently at $799 (approx Rs. 41,983) per month.

Sharing is just like it was on the older Google Docs and you can choose who is the owner, who can edit and who can view your document. With Google Drive, uploading is not restricted to plain documents anymore. Naturally, the editing though can be done only with documents.

Next up is the application that resides on your Mac or Windows PC. Basically, this is just a folder where you can dump all your data and it will instantly sync with all your data in the cloud. It’s as simple as drag and drop and your data is accessible on each and every device of yours that has Google Drive enabled. Just like on the web version, a few options for sharing data have been included in the desktop version as well.

The app for Android is pretty much unchanged as well, besides the naming bit. However, now that you can download and upload other files and not just documents, you can sync your favourite music and videos as well. The main problem with that is that you can’t stream or play it from the cloud itself, the file needs to be downloaded on to your device, which is definitely a drawback. Another important thing to note is that other Cloud storage solutions like Dropbox and Box.net have a security passcode feature that the user has to enter, which Google Drive at present doesn't have. So, whoever gets access to your phone, can easily access all your data on the cloud, which is definitely not somethin we'd want. The mobile website for Google Drive isn’t particularly impressive. We tried the mobile site on our BlackBerry and it was definitely not a pleasant experience. If they do manage to get a simpler and easier to use mobile site, Drive will definitely get an edge over its competitors.

To be honest, the interface on all the versions could still become easier and simpler to use, but the productivity is definitely there. For those with Gmail accounts, Google Drive is definitely a pretty nifty option considering it’s now part of your ecosystem. But, as we mentioned earlier, there are already so many cloud based storage options available. Google needs to push Google Drive out on multiple platforms including WP7, BlackBerry, Symbian and Bada to gauge a wider audience and acceptability. To wrap it up, Google Drive is a good start and for consumers, it’s another 5GB data you can store for free.

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