Anyone who has logged on to Google Docs recently has seen the message that “Google Docs will soon be upgraded to Google Drive. Google Drive will be the new home for your files.” We’re given the option of getting started now, so I decided to give it a try and post my impressions here.
My first thought was that Google had figured out a way to monetize Google Docs – since we will have to pay for storage beyond 5 Gigabytes. Granted, 5 Gig holds a lot of documentation, but Google wants to house all your files from everywhere – pictures, videos, and presentations, in addition to documents on which you wish to collaborate. I can see that 5 Gig getting eaten up pretty quickly for some people. Additional storage starts at 25 Gig for “less than $2.50 a month.” Our current household data storage on our networked FreeAgent drive is about 100 Gigabytes, so I won’t be backing everything up to GD quite yet.
Getting Started on Google Drive
Clicking on the ‘Get Started and Learn More’ link took me to a page with highlights of the GD service, along with a short promotional video, all pointing out how I could share and access files seamlessly from my phone (Android and iPhone), tablet, PC, Mac, and Chrome OS. Then there was the next button, “Get started with 5 GB free.” There, I was given a welcome screen, offered another video (which I didn’t watch), and yet another button “Try Google Drive.”
After clicking that, I was finally taken to the Google Drive interface, which looks a lot like the Google Docs interface. A message appeared letting me know that I could revert to the Google Docs UI at any time in the settings menu, but I don’t know how long that will be available. If you were comfortable with the old interface, you’ll be able to work with this one – most of the original options and look-and-feel have been preserved, except ‘collections’ are now ‘folders’ and there is no ‘home’ view. ’Star’-ing items is the same, and files can be dragged from one folder to another.
Google Drive for the PC
I convinced my wife to sign up for the service, and install the optional PC component. She is not an IT expert, but the setup was easy enough for her. Basically this application creates a new folder on your PC, and anything you put there is synced to your Google Drive. She copied some of her real estate files to the new folder, and they were available on the web a moment later.
Google Drive for Android
I then downloaded the Google Drive app for Android on my Epic 4G Touch phone. After accepting the TOS, I was able to access all my folders and files. This post is not intended to be a real ‘how-to,’ but suffice it to say that I was able to load my files, edit, re-save, and share them with specific people, all from my phone.
Of course, my low-cost Sylvania tablet has access to the Google Market (excuse me, I mean “Google Play”), but like most apps that I actually want, Google thinks GD is incompatible with my device. I worked around this in two ways: 1st, the excellent X-Plore file manager running on the tablet has native support, and connects to Google Drive. This shows my folders and files there just like the local folders and files, and I can open them directly in OfficeSuite Pro. This worked without a hitch. Next, I logged on to drive.google.com using the tablet’s stock browser (Android 2.2). At first it just gave me the old Google Docs interface, but once I switched from the ‘mobile’ version to the ‘desktop’ version, I was able to access the full GD functionality. Oddly, whenever I finished editing something and went back to the main screen, it would switch back to the mobile version.
Out of curiosity, I tried copying the .apk file for the Android version of the app from my phone to my tablet. 9 times out of 10 that will work fine, even for apps Google claims are incompatible with my tablet. This time however, the app would not install.
There you have it, Google Drive accessing files via the web, Android phone, and PC. I have no Apple products with which to test. I got to thinking about the 5 Gig limit for free storage. My wife now has an account. With her account and mine, we have 10 Gig. We also have two kids, which brings us up to 20 Gig…