DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post over lunch, in real time, as I installed and experimented with Google Drive. It may be that some of the good things I mention won’t work as well as they seem to at first glance, and it may be that some of the limitations I note below are either already addressed (though clearly not in an obvious manner) or will be addressed in the future.
Google Drive was finally released today. It will clearly shake-up the cloud space, and, as I noted yesterday, has a huge built-in user base, thanks to Gmail. My initial impressions are mixed.
1. It’s Google. Say what you will about Google mining our data and whatnot, but if I am going to put my life in the cloud, I want a name associated with the service. For security, backup and general reliability. I’ve used Gmail (via Google Apps) for a long, long time and it is definitely reliable. In sum, I just trust Google to take care of its equipment and my files.
2. It integrates well with your local file system. My most important requirement for a cloud service is the ability to drag and drop files via Windows Explorer or Finder. This works well with Google Drive, just like it does for Dropbox and SkyDrive.
3. It integrates well with Gmail and some (but not all- see below) other Google apps. Emailing from Google Drive is as simple as selecting File>Email as attachment.
4. You can buy as much space as you need. Paid plans range from 25GB for $30 a year to 100GB for $60 a year to 1TB for $600 a year all the way up to 16TB for $9600 a year.
1. Google Drive space is usable by Google Docs (which I use a little) and Picasa Web Albums (which I don’t use at all), but not by Gmail (Google did bump Gmail storage up to 10GB today and paid Google Drive users get another bump to 25GB) and, most disappointingly for me, Google Music. I want some place I can store and access everything. Every. Thing. Not just some things. This may be a licensing restriction, forced on Google by the obsolete, empty bag holding, cat stuffing record labels, but it still sucks.
2. There seems to be no way (so far) to play audio files from the cloud. I tried to play an MP3 and was greeted with this joy.
This is not good, and puts Google Drive at a disadvantage compared to other services, including SkyDrive, which elegantly streamed a video in my test last night (via the iPad app; perhaps this will be a feature in Google’s forthcoming iOS app). Sure, you can sync your computers and play audio and video from the synced folder, but I am trying to consolidate my stuff in the cloud, not put it everywhere.
If videos streamed from Google Drive, I would almost certainly buy some space, to create a private YouTube for home videos, if nothing else.
Update 1: Happily, it appears that you can stream videos from Google Drive. I uploaded a video this evening, clicked on it from Google Drive on the web, and it streamed (just like a YouTube video). So a private YouTube is possible.
Where is the Embed Code?
3. You can’t embed photos, audios or (I presume, but have not tried) videos in sites other than Google+.
I think Google+ is a beautifully written and robust platform (I’m not just saying that because my friend Louis ended up in that screen cap; I really mean it). The problem is that I don’t want my cloud service to dictate where I share things. Even those who actually have active Google+ circles have to share from Google+. There should at least be a Share to Google+ option within Google Drive.
The Bottom Line
If Google Drive extended at least to Google Music, and allowed easy sharing (e.g., direct link or embed code) on other services, and streamed audio
and video files, I would strongly consider buying a 1TB plan and moving all my stuff there. Sadly, it doesn’t – at least so far. I’ll take a wait and see approach, but based on what I see so far, I don’t think Google Drive is trying to fill the specific need I have.
This leads me back to the other horses in the cloud derby. SkyDrive (the surprising new entry and maybe leader) and my old standby, Dropbox.
Corrections as errors are discovered and updates as they occur.