How the Products Work
Installing the software sets up a special folder on your hard disk. Any files copied to this folder are synced to the Internet. So I have an online backup, big deal. Right? But what happens when I install the same software on my iPhone, my iPad, my second laptop? Suddenly all my devices are automatically synchronized with all my data. Powerful stuff.
What do SkyDrive and Google Drive do better than DropBox?
Well first, both services offer a lot more disk space than Dropbox. For $120/yr, Dropbox gives you 50gb of disk space. Google and Microsoft are offering 100gb for around $50/yr. That is quite a discount.
Google Drive offers Google Docs integration. You can edit Word and Excel files on the web and then have them synced to your devices. In addition, Google Drive looks to have some very interesting photo and video sharing features that seem to be unique.
SkyDrive offers Microsoft Office integration with their online office offering.
What don't SkyDrive and Google Drive Offer?
First off, Dropbox offers support on pretty much all mobile devices (iOS, Android) and operating systems (Windows, OS X, Linux). The new contenders do not. Issues include:
- Neither new product supports Linux
- Google supports Android but not iOS, though it is coming soon
- SkyDrive supports iOS and Windows Phone but not Android
- Google docs can only be edited from the Web. You can't edit them from your local copies. In fact, you only get links to your docs and no local copies.
- Sharing features for SkyDrive do not work on the Mac OS X version
These moves are gonna shake things up both for the cloud drive market and for the online backup market. Dropbox is still way easier to use and is much slicker than its two rivals. I would expect a price cut or a storage increase very quickly from Dropbox.
Apple has everything in place to be a competitor in this space. However, if they stay isolated in their ecosystem, they surrender this market to their competitors.
In the end, this means more options and better deals for us end users. Hooray for that!
Reviews and General Posts
The Verge: Hands On
Google Drive FAQ
Cloud Drives Compared
Here are the articles comparing cloud drive features.
PCWorld: Google Drive vs the Rest
Laptop Mag: Cloud drives compared
The Verge: All the Cloud Drives Compared
Engadget: Google Drive vs the Rest
Google Terms Controversy
Late in the day there was some controversy about Google Terms of service. My take is it was much ado about nothing. Once your read Google Terms of Service everything looks ok. But if you want to make up your own mind check out these links.
ZDNet: How far do Googles terms of service go?
CNET: Who owns your files?
Google Terms of Service