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Google Drive just keeps getting better and better!!

posted 28 Nov 2013, 03:29 by Chris Barrow
In the summer of 2011 I was comparing two office platforms, Google apps for business and the Beta version of office 365. At the time Google Apps were clearly ahead and we decided that we would become a Google Apps reseller.

Fast forward two years, the platform transformation and the pace of development, new features and products is simply astounding. Google Drive (originally known as Google Docs ) is a good example, announced in April 2012 and released not long after.

We now have an app or application which is truly cross platform, working on Windows, Apple, Linux, Android and iOS, allowing you access to your files any time and any place.

This used to be anywhere you had an internet connection, now with offline access you can access your files and even edit documents.
In June 2012 Google announced the acquisition of Quickoffice, an app for both android and iPhone. They have since made this app available for free for both Google Apps for  business accounts and Gmail personal account users. Using this app you can open, create and edit both Google Docs (currently forwarded to the Google drive editor) and Microsoft word documents.

So you have created a presentation using Google Docs and you are off to do a sales presentation to an important new sales prospect, what do you do?
If all goes well you arrive in their office, connect to the internet and wow them with your fantastic presentation. What happens if there is no internet connection, well luckily for you, you can mark the presentation as being available offline.

Google Drive integration with GMail just got better, email attachments are now shown as thumbnails which can be previewed, downloaded to your PC or Chromebook or save directly to a folder of your choice in Google Drive, this makes the experience of Gmail and Google drive so much more intuitive and easy to use.
This intuitive new feature addition of allowing email attachment files to be saved directly to a Google Drive can dramatically help shift how collaboration is done with the various Apps, Gmail, Drive and Google+ being more closely woven together.

The drive app itself has received a number of improvements since its first release, when describing the drive app, I would normally say it is similar to dropbox, which at the time was the market leader.

Once installed on your PC or Macbook, the files stored on the Google servers will synced with your computer. Where this is a Google Doc, it will be a file link which opens in your web browser, for other files they will open in whatever programme created them. For example a word doc, will open in Microsoft word. You can even be selective on which folders are synced from Google to your PC.

Want to manage sharing permissions for your files and folders, you can now do this directly from the drive app rather than opening up drive in a web browser. Thanks to a recent update, you can now share files to people that do not have Google accounts. Domain administrators can set permissions by organisation unit if you do not want to allow sharing outside your company.

If you wanted to email a large file attachment to a business college or customer, you can now. Simply attach the file from Google drive to your email, it does not matter if it is 10 MB or 10 GB, it's just a link to the file in Google Drive.  
The resource savings are considerable, consider for example the traditional way of emailing out a document for review to 10 people. There are then 10 copies of the document that have to be stored at minimum. Then they get downloaded to your local hard disk to be opened. by the time this document has been reviewed emailed backwards and forwards there could be hundreds of copies.

With the new preview feature in Gmail, you can now open a document directly in your web browser and if it's a Google doc, even edit it. The security advantages are obvious. since Google uses a secure data connection between your web browser and their data centres to transport attachments  nothing has to be downloaded to your computer. This keeps all transport on Google’s private network between data centres, your file is far more secure.

Collaboration has always been a strong feature of Google Docs and Drive, going back to my example of 10 people reviewing a document. In the world of Google docs, this is a single document that gets shared out. Everyone has the same version and they can all work on it at the same time, chat, collaborate and see each others edits in real time as they type. Gone are the days when you have to chase everyone for their input and then 5 minutes before the deadline have to merge everything together.

By Chris Barrow
Google Apps™ Consultant and deployment 
specialist
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