Google Drive official: 5GB of free storage, Chrome web apps, Wave-like sharing and editing (video)


If it happened any other way, it just wouldn't be as satisfying, now would it? After years of leaks, murmurs, hubbub and other familiar synonyms, Google's mythical cloud storage platform is now official... sort of. As Lady Fate would have it, the company apparently outed a memo of the features on its French blog earlier today, but before it could yank the 'pull' switch, an eagle-eyed reader managed to grab the text and run it through -- surprise, surprise -- Google Translate. What's left is an official-as-you'll-get-right-now transcript of Google Drive's features, but contrary to the hype, it all feels way more enterprise-centric than consumers may have wanted. For starters, there's no real mention of music (we guess Google Music is on its own, there), and there's just 5GB of free storage for "documents, videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs, etc." According to the brief, it's designed to let users "live, work and play in the cloud," with direct integration with Docs and Google+.

We're also told that Drive can be installed on one's Mac, PC or Android phone / tablet, while an iOS version will be "available in the coming weeks." Of note, Google's making this accessible to visually impaired consumers with the use of a screen reader. As for features? Naturally, Google's flexing its search muscles in as many ways as possible; if you scan in a newspaper clipping, a simple Search All within Drive will allow results to appear directly from said clipping. If you upload a shot of the Eiffel Tower, it'll show up whenever you search for the aforesaid icon. Moreover, Drive will allow folks to open over 30 types of documents directly from a web browser, including HD video, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and more -- "even without the software installed on your computer." For those concerned about access, the new platform will have the same infrastructure as any other Google Apps services, giving admins a familiar set of management tools on that end.

On the topic of storage, just 5GB are provided gratis, with 25GB costing $2.49 per month, 100GB running you $4.99 per month and 1TB demanding $49.99 per month, with a maximum of 16TB ($799.99 per month, if you're curious) per user; thankfully, Google Docs will not be included in your usage total. Finally, the note played up the ability to "attach documents directly into your Drive Gmail," and given that it's intended to be an open platform, Goog's promising to work with third party developers in order to enhance Drive's functionality even further. The source link below is still dead as of right now, but it simply can't be long before the lights are officially turned on. Oh, and if you're not enamored at the moment, the outfit's suggesting that "many more developments" will be arriving in the coming weeks.

Update: It's live on the Google Play store, and a pair of explanatory videos are embedded after the break!



Are QR Codes Here to Stay?

QR codes have proven to be a perpetual experiment for most small businesses and organizations. A recent study by Chadwick Martin Bailey found that, while 81% of consumers have seen the codes, 79% aren’t actually familiar with the term ‘QR code.’

Restaurants may include them on menus, some stores may offer check-outs or scans of specials by slapping a code on a package or billboard, but overall, the effectiveness of QR codes is still something that people debate.

So are these computerized ink blots an underground fad, a growing trend, or a flash in the smart-pan? The folks at Constant Contact recently held a debate on the matter with their managing editor, Martin Lieberman, and our senior content developer, Dave Charest.


Why would a business or organization use a QR code?

Martin: A QR code can be great because it's a quick way to get someone to your website, or a specific landing page, without having to give that person a URL.

Dave: See, I think QR codes are just the latest fad. You see a lot of people using them just to use them. That’s not really ideal. What’s the sense in using a QR code to send people to your homepage when you could just give them the web address? Some crazy people think it’s a good idea to use them online. That’s just dumb. Give me a link instead. Don’t make me take out my phone, scan a code and then get to the destination. Like I said: dumb.

The only reason I see for businesses and organizations to use them would be to do something cool or unique. For example, I’ve seen a restaurant have a code at each table that would bring you to their specials menu in case you couldn’t see the board. That’s cool. Or maybe you can use them if you’re going to take people to a secret page with unique content that can’t be found otherwise. You have to make it worthwhile for the person to go through the cumbersome process. Otherwise, it’s best not to use them at all.

Are there potential disadvantages to using QR codes, such as time or budget constraints?

Martin: There aren’t really time or budget constraints, since QR codes are free and take about two seconds to create. I'd say the disadvantages are that not everyone knows what a QR code is or what they're supposed to do when they see one. Any business or organization that chooses to include one in their marketing efforts should include instructions for scanning it (possibly including info about the mobile app needed) and what the person should expect to see when the code is scanned. People will be more apt to scan if they know how and why.

Dave: Like Martin said, I don’t really believe it’s an issue of time or budget. It’s simple to make a QR code and easy to have it printed. The real disadvantage is whether or not your audience is going to use them. But since they’re easy enough to create, if you have something worth sharing, it can be worth a try.

Should all businesses and organizations be using them? How can someone decide whether a QR code campaign is a smart marketing move?

Martin: I don't think everyone needs to be using QR codes just yet. But if you have a hard-to-remember web address, then a QR code might serve you well. Another consideration is whether your website is mobile-friendly. You don't want to use a QR code and send someone to your website on a mobile device if the user experience will be less than optimal. And finally, will the people you want to scan your code have access to the internet? For example, I've seen QR codes included in inflight magazines, and I have no ability to get on a website when I'm thousands of feet in the air.

Dave: You probably can’t decide whether it’s a good marketing move until you use one. Once you experiment with them, you can look at your stats to see if something worth implementing again. I’m all for giving it a go, but I wouldn’t expect it to take you to new marketing heights.

And the bottom line: Are QR codes here to stay? Why or why not?

Martin: I think the jury's still out. Right now, some people are resistant to QR codes for a number of reasons, including the fact that the codes aren’t visually appealing. Or, like Dave, they have super-memories and can remember every URL they come across. [laughs]

I think in the next year or two, as mobile marketing becomes more prevalent, we'll see different versions of QR codes, or technologies that act in similar ways, but are easier to use and more interesting to look at. Microsoft already has a version that's more colorful, and other startups have ones that incorporate a company logo. So I wouldn't close the book on QR codes, or technologies like them, just yet.

Dave: I would happily close the book on QR codes, at least from a consumer use standpoint. In that regard, I’m going to have to say they aren’t here to stay. Sure, there’s a curiosity about them right now, but I don’t see QR codes providing enough value to last. Where I see a lasting use is from a transactional stand-point. If a business is providing coupons to customers, a QR code make the redemption and tracking process pretty painless. That’s where a QR code has some legs, and may just get me to take my phone out.