Yup, it seems that after all the rumors, speculation and leaks, Google has officially announced Google Drive. The company has described the new service as “a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff.” While it admittedly does sound a bit like Dropbox where users can share files with each other via a cloud-based storage system, Google Drive has set itself apart from the competition with the integration of Google Docs which lets users edit and work on documents, spreadsheets and presentations with each other in real time and receive notifications when changes or comments have been made to existing documents.

Google Drive will make use of Google’s core competency which is its search engine and will allow for users to search for documents via keywords. In fact, scanned documents/images using OCR technology (metadata) can also be searched using keywords, but it should be noted that this particular feature that Google is introducing to Google Drive is still in its early stages and there’s always room for improvement (like adding their own OCR system, like Evernote has). Google Drive will also be available on both Windows and Mac computers along with a free Android app. The desktop version basically create a drive that mostly behaves as a network drive. Fret not iOS users as Google is currently working on an app for you as well.

All your Google Docs will now appear as local files in that special Google Drive folder, and you can create folders, sub-folders and add any type of files, including MS Office documents and photos. All files that are uploaded can be opened from that location, worked on and saved. Upon saving, Google Drive will create a new file revision, and keep the old version. It’s like having a time machine for every files on Google Drive. This is a very neat feature, but one that can quickly eat up storage space, depending on how Google manages the file history.

The earlier rumors were correct and Google Drive will be launching with 5GB of free storage space. Users will be offered three tiered data options if they feel that the default 5GB is not enough. It starts with an upgrade to 25GB at $2.49 a month, 100GB for $4.99 a month or a whopping 1TB at $49.99 a month. As an incentive to upgrade to a paid account, Google will upgrade your Gmail account storage to 25GB. If all of this sounds good to you, head on over to Google Drive’s website to claim your free 5GB. In the mean time, additional details can be found in the video below or on Google’s blog.

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