Google is expected to shortly launch Google Drive, a major new consumer service offering cloud-based storage for photos and other online content.
Google Drive is likely to offer 5 GB (gigabytes) of free storage with more available for a monthly fee.
It would challenge services including Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
Experts suggest it could also force rival Facebook to enter the cloud market.
Cloud services have become hugely popular as people seek to access content from a variety of places and devices.
Reports suggest that Google Drive will work with sophisticated image search technology to let consumers sift through a wide variety of document types, including PDF files and photographs.
Google Drive is likely to offer 5 GB of free storage with more available for a monthly fee
Richard Edwards, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, thinks that it may act as a wake-up call to others.
“Facebook doesn’t have a cloud service but this may prompt it into an acquisition,” Richard Edwards said.
“If Facebook was to buy Dropbox that would be a game-changer.”
Google was “very late to the market” he added.
“I would see this as an extension to its Google Docs offering and it could provide value to its social network Google+, allowing the sharing of files that are too big to email.”
The most important aspect of Google Drive would be how it worked with the myriad of devices people carried, he suggested.
“I will be looking to see how I can synchronize content stored in the cloud to all my devices to access as and when I want.”
In anticipation of Google’s announcement, rivals have updated their own services.
Dropbox now allows users to give non-members access to files via emailed links. Until now it had required both parties to have signed up to its service and have shared folders.
Microsoft has also improved its SkyDrive service.
Among other features, it has integrated the drive into Windows Explorer and Apple’s Finder so that it works as an extension of the desktop.
It also added capability to access files stored on the drive from an iPad as well as the iPhone and Windows Phone-based handsets.
Google Drive plans found by The Next Web
Brad McCarty at The Next Web got lucky and received a draft release from a partner of Google’s upcoming Google Drive service which discloses lots of information about how Google plans to take on the incumbent Dropbox. The story: 5 GB of storage, and it launches next week, most likely on Tuesday at http://drive.google.com
Brad McCarty commented:
Now let’s talk details. It’s no surprise that it will roll out for free. What’s interesting though is that Google is planning to start everyone with 5 GB of storage. Of course you can buy more, but that trumps Dropbox’s 2 GB that is included with every account. Dropbox does make it easy to get more space, including 23 GB of potential upgrades for HTC users.
What’s also interesting is the wording related to how the system will work. It’s been long-thought that Windows integration will come easy, but that getting the Google Drive icon into the Mac a la Dropbox would be a bit harder. From what we’re reading, Google Drive will work “in desktop folders” on both Mac and Windows machines, which still leaves the operation question unanswered.
Google Drive leaked at TechCrunch
TechCrunch has been able to download and run the app and it is currently idle, sitting quietly in the corner, unable to connect to the service at Google.
The version they were given is 1.0.2891 and seems to run without issue. They were able to log in using the Gmail account. It currently throws an error stating that “Google Drive is not yet enabled for your account.”
Though not definitive proof that the service will launch next week, it’s clear that this is a full, working app. There is native support for Google filetypes like files produced in Gdraw and Google Docs.
At this point the app is pretty much useless. It seems Google needs to activate the service from their end in order to enable the functionality.
Google is not commenting on Google Drive at yet. “We do not comment on rumor or speculation,” a spokesman told msnbc.com Monday.
Read more at The Next Web and TechCrunch