Google Drive arrives at last

Google has finally unveiled Drive, its cloud storage system, years after it was first rumoured to appear.

“Just like the Loch Ness monster, you may have heard the rumours about Google Drive,” said Sundar Pichai, head of Chrome and Apps, in a post on the Google blog. “It turns out, one of the two actually does exist.”

Like rival cloud syncing and storage systems such as Dropbox and Microsoft’s recently revamped SkyDrive, Google’s Drive app installs a folder directly into Windows Explorer or Macs. Google will also release mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Just like the Loch Ness monster, you may have heard the rumours about Google Drive

“Drive is built to work seamlessly with your overall Google experience,” said Pichai. “You can attach photos from Drive to posts in Google+, and soon you’ll be able to attach stuff from Drive directly to emails in Gmail.”

He said Google was working with app developers to “do things like send faxes, edit videos and create website mockups directly from Drive”.

Google Drive replaces the Google Docs file storage system, with any documents or spreadsheets saved using the web-based productivity apps automatically turning up in the Drive folder.

Search tool

This being Google, Drive features a specialised search tool, allowing users to find documents by owner, keyword and other terms, and can recognise text in scanned documents using OCR.

“We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up,” Pichai said. “This technology is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time.”

Google Drive comes with 5GB of storage for free – more than twice what Dropbox offers, but less than Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which offers 7GB to new users or 25GB to existing SkyDrive account holders. Upgrading to 25GB on Google Drive will cost $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month and 1TB for $49.99/month. Upgrades will also boost Gmail storage to 25GB.

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