All signs point to the release in early April of Google Drive, the company’s much-anticipated cloud storage locker that will offer 5GB of free storage and provide access to data from mobile phones, tablets or desktops.
Google declined to comment Friday, but several reports indicated Google Drive is expected within the first two weeks of April and will allow users to upload and share photos, documents, videos and other content in the cloud.
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The offering will compete with cloud storage rivals, including Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Box and Microsoft SkyDrive. Dropbox offers 2GB free to users, Box and Apple iCloud offer 5GB free, and Microsoft SkyDrive offers 25 GB.
Google Drive is expected to integrate with Gmail, allowing users to share content via links embedded in e-mail. Drive may also integrate with Google's cloud collaboration and communication suite.
One feature of great interest to business users of the storage service is expected to be “admin-managed storage,” which will allow IT administrators in businesses to purchase the service for multiple employees.
Currently, Google Docs provides 1GB of free storage and allows users to purchase more storage individually. Allowing an administrator to purchase storage for multiple employees will make using Google storage much easier for organizations.
There have long been expectations for a Google cloud storage offering, but The Wall Street Journal first gave details to Google Drive last month.
This week, GigaOm reported the expected April release time frame, and Talkandroid.com displayed a screenshot of Google Drive and listed the 5GB storage limit.
The tagline on the Google Drive UI reads: "Access files on your computer from anywhere . Put files in Google Drive and you can access them on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet, and drive.google.com."
One Google partner, who said he had no specific information about the launch, said customers have been waiting for such a storage offering from Google.
"If Google released a product that made it easier to purchase additional space at the enterprise level, then Google Apps users can use Cloud Desktop G-Drive to save all their files into Google Apps and they won't have to buy DropBox or Box," said Kevin Lalor, CEO of Google partner Business Intelligence 101, of Livermore, Calif. “We see a lot of our customers who are interested in moving to the cloud, and with this, Google will be their file server in the cloud. This has long been needed.”