Google Drive Announced: 5GB Free, 100GB for $4.99 Per Month

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After weeks of speculation, Google Drive has finally hit the shelves -- so to speak. Google's answer to online storage services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive and iCloud, Google Drive delivers up to 5GB of free storage for users as well the standard features most users have come to expect from cloud services -- synchronization of content across PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets; file sharing with friends and colleagues; and the option to upgrade to increased storage, for a fee (Google Drive offers up to 16TB). Even more interesting are the service's several unique features. Is Google poised to make a big splash in the "cloud war" between Microsoft, Apple, Google and Dropbox?

The file-editing features of Google Docs have been rolled into Google Drive, meaning that users can continue to work with others on documents, spreadsheets and presentations in real time. Likewise, the file-sharing capability of Google Docs has been preserved in Google Drive, allowing users to determine who can view, edit or comment on their files. To streamline the process, a search function allows Google Drive users to sort their content by keywords, file type, owner, and other criteria. The search tool can purportedly even identify objects in your images and text in scanned documents.

More: Who Will Win the Cloud War? Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft

Google has also integrated Google Drive with Google+ and Gmail. Rather than send attachments, users can paste a link in the email to their Google Drive account to ensure that the recipients have the same version. Similarly, pictures and videos stored in Google Drive can be accessed immediately in Google+.

Where Google Drive truly sets itself apart from the competition, however, is in its unique features and competitive pricing.

According to the announcement page, users will be able to access more than 30 file types directly through Google Drive, meaning they can open files from Adobe products like Photoshop even if they're not installed on their computer. Users can also create, open and share files from apps directly in the service. Google Drive saves every revision to documents and files for 30 days, and allows users to revert to an earlier draft automatically.

Perhaps most impressive are the prices: Google Drive users can store up to 5GB of files for free, with the option to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49 per month, 100GB for $4.99 per month, 200GB for $9.99 per month, up to as much as 16TB. By comparison, Apple offers a maximum of 50GB through iCloud, for a price of about $8.33 per month, while Dropbox offers 100GB for $19.99 per month. Only Microsoft's SkyDrive offers comparable pricing, costing about $4.16 per month for 100GB of storage.

The Google Drive announcement video can be found below.

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