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Google Drive Keep Everything. Share Anything in the Cloud

Google Drive launched today let people “create, share, collaborate and keep all of their stuff on the cloud. It is built to work seamlessly with other Google applications like Google+, Docs and Gmail, and third-party web app too. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond.”

“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. Drive is also an open platform, so we’re working with many third-party developers so you can do things like send faxes, edit videos and create website mockups directly from Drive,” explained Google.

In addition to above mentioned features, your app can also take advantage of Drive’s storage, indexing, and document viewers. “For example, HelloFax, a web application lets you sign and fax documents from your browser. HelloFax users can now store all their inbound and outbound faxes in Google Drive, making them easy to find later. Plus, with automatic OCR, users can even search and find text in faxed images. Your application can store files of any type up to 10 GB in size or create file-like shortcuts to your application’s data,” Google explained.

Also, note that Drive uses Google Goggles technology to recognize objects, logos, landmarks, text and much more, so you can find an image even if the filename is a.jpg. The most impressive thing is that the processing happens as soon as you upload the images and there’s no setting to enable.

“Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article. 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. This technology is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time,” explains Google.

For example, searching for [Android], it found an image of the Android statue from the Googleplex:

Google Drive using Google Goggles for image search

….and also found a screenshot of Google’s homepage and a Chrome logo when searching for [Google], this time using OCR technology.

Google Drive OCR technology example

For now, Drive offers 5 GB of free storage, up from 1 GB. You can get started with 5GB of storage for free–you can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.

Also, note that Gmail now offers 10 GB of free storage.

google drive web apps

“Google Drive apps are distributed from the Chrome Web Store, and can be used with any modern browser. Plus, your app can take advantage of Google’s sharing, storage, and identity management features,” Google explains.

Joining the launch today are 18 third-party web apps that have integrated with Drive using the Google Drive SDK, and one of them is already enabled by default: Pixlr, a photo editor. To install these apps, visit the Chrome Web Store–and look out for even more useful apps in the future.

google drive : pixlr editor

To integrate a third-party app with Google Drive, the app sends you to a page that asks for your permission. The authorization process fails if you load the page without installing the Chrome Web Store app. As Google says, “apps will not have any API access to files unless the app has been installed in Chrome Web Store.” Chrome apps are only used to allow the third-party apps to use the Drive API, but they can be uninstalled immediately after they’re installed and all the features will work in Chrome and any other browser.

Integrating third-party apps with GDrive

Third-party apps integration with Google Drive

Once installed, the Drive app by default, creates a new folder for Google Drive, downloads all the files uploaded to Google Docs and adds shortcuts for the files created using Google Docs apps. This way, the files download to your computer are available offline and can be opened using your favorite apps, while the files created using Google Docs can only open in a browser. If you use Chrome, you can also open some of the files offline.

Google Drive also added a new way to view the files from a folder. Just right-click the folder, select “open folder” and you’ll be able to preview and edit files, while still seeing the list of files. The cool thing about this is that the files are cached and you can quickly switch between them without reloading the files. You can use this feature to compare documents, edit two documents simultaneously or preview the files from a folder shared with you. The sidebar can be minimized by clicking the small arrow icon and you’ll still be able to click file icons.

google drive folder view

There are many other changes: a grid view, collections are now called folders, an activity view that shows “live updates of everything you and others have modified” and Google Apps support.

gdrive grid view and other changes

Here are the Google plans (old vs. new) and DropBox and SkyDrive — Drive plans still cheaper than Dropbox’s plans, but they’re more expensive than Microsoft’s plans. Microsoft downgraded the free quota from 25 GB to 7 GB, but existing users can still keep it.

google drive plans

Google DriveDropboxSkyDrive
Free storage5 GB2 GB (up to 18 GB)7 GB (existing users: 25 GB)
+20 GB$10
+25 GB$29.88
+50 GB$99$25
+100 GB$59.88$199$50

Here is the video demonstrating Google Drive:

Full documentation on the Google Drive SDK is available at developers.google.com/drive, or if you’re itching to start building, head to Getting Started guide.

Drive lets you download desktop and mobile apps that synchronize your files. For now, the apps are only available for Windows, Mac and Android, but Google will release an app for iPhone and iPad in the near future.

Get started with Drive today at drive.google.com/start.

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