Google Drive made its debut last week, finally bringing itscloud storage service to the masses, both on the computer and on Android devices. As expected, it comes with a capacity offive gigabytes for free, with the option of upgrading to a larger capacity for an extramonthly charge (25 gigabyte drive for $2.50, 100 gigabytes for $4.99).

As with previous Google launches, Drive is rolling out inwaves – you can find out if your drive is ready yet by heading to and signing in with your usual Google ID. If it’s notready yet, you’ll get an email telling you when it’s good to go.

The concept is similar to Dropbox – you install an app ontoyour PC, and onto your Android smartphone or tablet. Then you can start sharingfiles back and forth between your various devices.

The difference with Drive is that it comes pre-populatedwith the content you’ve already stored in Google Docs. (In other words, youalready had cloud storage with Google. This just makes it official.)

When you set up Google Drive on your computer, it willcreate a folder on your machine – you’ll have the option of making everythingyou place into that folder available to your other devices, or you can chooseto “sync” only very specific folders. Again, this is similar to those who havealready used Dropbox.

I put “sync” in quotes there, because it doesn’t appear tobe a true sync – instead, the mobile devices only seem to update the directorylisting, and the content itself only seems to come down from the cloud when youask for it. It’s a wise move – otherwise, a service like this could quickly eatup your data plan.

You can use the Google Drive app on your Android devices tocreate new documents, as well as view ones you’ve already created. Thesedocuments will then appear as a .gdoc file on all linked computers, but whenyou click on it, it will take you to Google Docs inside your web browser, justlike before.

After you’ve installed the app on the mobile devices, GoogleDrive will appear as an option in the Share list. So, for example, you can takea photo on your smartphone’s camera, tap “share”, and immediately send itupstream to your Google Drive.

In the end, Google Drive doesn’t seem to offer much thatisn’t already available through other services like Dropbox or Wuala. But bybolting right into the Google Docs service that many Android users already use,it simplifies the ecosystem somewhat, by keeping more of your digital lifeunder a single umbrella.



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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada