Google has brought a couple of much-needed features to Google Drive, including a solution for the age-old dilemma of how to send extremely large files.
Gmail users who’ve opted into the new compose message style may now insert files directly from Google Drive, the company’s free online storage service. For files you’ve already stored online through Google Drive, this is basically a shortcut for sharing them with other people. (The new tool also lets you upload files directly to Google Drive from within Gmail before attaching them.)
Google Drive attachments can be much larger than standard e-mail attachments. The size limit for attached files through Google Drive is 10 GB, compared to 25 MB for regular attachments. So essentially, Google has tackled a classic file-sharing frustration: By sending a file through Google Drive, you needn’t worry about whether the attachment is too large to go through. Although other cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, can also help with sharing large files, Drive’s integration with Gmail makes for a simpler solution because you never have to leave the compose window to add a file.
You can upload files to Google Drive through the web or by installing the desktop app, which lets you drag and drop files using your PC’s file system.
The other big improvement for Google Drive is the ability to edit spreadsheets using Drive’s iOS or Android apps. Users can edit text by double-tapping on any cell, and can also change fonts, resize columns and sort data. Google added document editing for Android last February, and for iOS last September, but spreadsheets have been read-only until now.
Still missing, though, is the ability to edit Google Drive documents offline through its mobile apps. Offline editing is supported on PCs using Google’s Chrome browser, but for now only offline viewing is supported on Drive’s mobile apps.
Also, it’s a bit surprising that Google Drive attachments in Gmail aren’t yet available on mobile devices. Given that wireless bandwidth is more precious on smartphones, the ability to attach a file without uploading anything would be useful. Hopefully Google’s working on that.
You may recall that Google merged its document, spreadsheet and presentation editors–collectively known as Google Docs–into Google Drive earlier this year. The idea is to have a single place for editing, viewing and sharing files. The new features should help make it easier to do so.