Google has officially launched the internet giant’s cloud storage service, Google Drive, offering 5GB of storage free of charge.
Equating the heavy speculation over the past weeks with that of the Loch Ness Monster, Google senior veep Sundar Pichai unveiled the service, describing Google Drive as "a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff."
As expected, Google’s online productivity suite Google Docs will be able to directly access Google Drive storage. Collaborative working also allows groups of people to work in real-time on documents as well as comment on shared files of other formats such as images and video.
The Google Drive application is available on the PC, Mac and for Android phones and tablets but not yet Apple’s iOS devices. Pichai said the firm was "working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices."
Interestingly, Google Drive extends Google’s search into documents stored on the service in scanned format, applying OCR technology so that users can find text as it occurs in such documents.
Even more impressively, Google is using image recognition – doubtless developed as part of Google Images – so that a search for "grand canyon" will turn up photos of the US landmark. Google called the image recognition feature in the "early stages" and suggested it would improve over time.
Pichai also drew attention to third-party support for Google Drive, highlighting ‘Drive Apps’ within the Chrome web store such as faxing applications, photo and video editing, mockups and diagram apps and so on.
Google account holders can head over to the Google Drive site and will see if they already have access to the service and if not, can request to be notified by email when they do. Sadly, we don’t yet.