The technosphere is all atwitter over growing evidence that Google Drive — aka “G-Drive” — is about to be released as a standalone product. I am a daily user of Google Docs and Google Drive is rumored to become a part of Google Docs or even replace that functionality. Now, I’ll give you the breadcrumb clues I’ve been collecting that Google Drive is really, basically, functionally, already here. We’re just waiting on the official re-branding.
Here are the clues of an impending Google Driver service that are visible and working:
I often give Feedback to Google Docs by clicking that link on the main Docs page. Over the past couple of months, Google has changed the way they discuss Google Docs in Feedback. Instead of talking about the overall experience, they instead break the Docs into two memes: Editing Docs and what they call the “files interface.” Previously, Google Docs was editing and the main files view all as one user experience. To comment on the main Google Docs page was to comment on anything in Docs. Only recently has the nomenclature changed within Google that when you give feedback, they separate the two experiences. I was tricked into commenting on the lack of speed on the Google Docs page (the files page) in a Feedback comment because the next Feedback page then asked me about the files page and my experience. So on the Google side, they had already cleaved Docs editing from the Docs files (Google Drive!) page and I, as a confounded end user, had to sort of figure out on my own that the baby had officially been split.
Google doesn’t like the term “folders.” They prefer “labels” instead. That’s fine. I get it that a file can have multiple labels. Over the weekend, that has changed. Now “labels” act like folders. Placing a file in a top-level label and a sub-label always resulted in two labels being applied to the file. As of Saturday, September 24, 2011, a file now only has ONE label — the lowest label in a containerized tree listing — if it belongs to more than one upper hierarchical label. What that means for us as end users is that a file now sneakily resides in a folder instead of being just “labeled.” That’s fine, but it messes up my previous organization of my files via nested labeling. Old files have a “label within a label” while new files moved and modified since Saturday now have only one “label” in a single hierarchy or, as Google refers to it, “Collection.” I guess Google’s new definition of “folder” is “Collection.” You can now also upload a “folder” to Google Docs and it becomes a “Collection.”
Over the last few months the Google Files interface has been slow and wonky and unfriendly. Lots of changes and tweaks were happening beyond the new interface update.
Currently, you can only drag-and-drop a label within a label — but you can’t drop top-level labels (Collections) into other top-level Collections. I expect that to change in the next week or so as the Folders-Are-Really-Collections meme begins to officially gather steam. I will welcome that change. My home files sidebar is getting overburdened with too many Google Docs Collections that I want to nest.
Finally, the current Google Docs “Files” interface will become the new face of Google Drive and when you edit or create a Doc, you will be taken to a new “Create” interface that is currently just a button on the main files page. I also believe included in that Google Drive files page will integration with Google Music Beta. You can play your songs directly from the Google Drive homepage. You are currently given 20,000 songs storage for free, but if you want more music beyond that 20,000 song limit, you’ll likely have to buy additional storage and you’ll buy it by increasing your “Good Docs” storage space. Like the Amazon Cloud Drive and Player, Google Drive will be you new one-stop-fits-all interface for any file you want to store with a drag-and-drop simplicity Amazon Cloud Drive does not yet provide.
What are you seeing in Google Docs? Have I missed any other obvious interaction changes with the service that even more clearly points to an impending Google Drive revelation before October 4, 2011?