Google has shaken the cloud drive (internet storage) space with the launch of its aptly named ‘Google Drive’ service.

Like similar cloud storage products from DropBox, Microsoft, Apple and others, Google’s offering gives users their very own ‘drive’ or storage locker in the cloud, where they can store and share documents, photos, music, videos and other file types. Google Drive requires that you download and install software on your Mac or PC first, which then gives you a dedicated Google Drive folder. Anything you copy to the folder will be uploaded to the cloud and stored at one of Google’s massive data centres.

And once in the cloud, your information can be shared to people you nominate, collaborated on or accessed via a wide variety of different devices.

Capabilities

Sharing is an ideal way to transfer large files that you wouldn’t be able to send via email. Once a file is uploaded to your Google Drive, a download link can be generated and sent via email to a person you nominate – and they can download the file to their computer by clicking on the link.

Document collaboration is a handy feature, especially in the business sphere and for those already using Google Docs, which is now integrated into Google Drive. When a document is uploaded, two or more people can collaborate on it in real time, all while maintaining a single version of the file. And if you want to revert back to an older version, Google Drive will let you skip back to previous saves up to 30 days old.

The GadgetGuy’s Valens Quinn reports on Google Drive for Channel 7’s Sunrise.

Best of all, documents, videos and photos stored in your Google Drive can be accessed from any computer via a web browser – as well as Android based phones and tablets. You’ll also be able to view Google Drive content on Apple iPhones and iPads, although a Google Drive app has not yet been released on Apple App Store. While no official date has been given, expect to see Google Drive on your Apple smartphone or tablet within the next couple of months.

You can benefit from Google’s formidable search prowess, which is available for the files uploaded to your Google Drive. They system can scan documents for keywords, and even apply optical character recognition (OCR) to scanned newspaper articles or bank statements, making it easier to track down the information you’re looking for. Also, Google will attempt to identify photo contents, so, for example, when you search for ‘bridge’, Google will display a recent photo taken of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the search results.

 

Google Drive can work in tandem with other Google applications, making it easier to leverage your files for different purposes. For example, you could pluck a file stored on Google Drive and attach it to your Gmail without needing to upload it first. Contacts can be extracted from your Gmail address book for link sharing or team collaboration, or photos uploaded to the drive can be shared via your Google Plus account.

This degree of integration, however, does open privacy concerns where Google may be able to learn more about your habits and interests, and push targeted ads your way.

Google Drive comes with 5GB of free storage space, and there are various paid upgrades.

Google Drive is being rolled out in stages across different countries. In Australia, users still need to wait for their accounts to be prepared and can be notified once the service is ready.