All about Google Chrome & Google Chrome OS

25 Apr 12 Google Drive and Chrome OS: Has the New ‘PC’ Arrived?

Will Google Drive inside Chrome OS usher in an era where the personal cloud reigns supreme over the personal computer? Photo: Karen Ka Ying Wong/Flickr

Google Drive’s impact on personal computing is bound to be big. Wired’s first test-drive of Drive sums up that many will like it, but “those who will prefer Google Drive are those who already prefer Google itself.” The bigger-impact question, coming as Act II of the launch, is: Will Google Drive integrated with Chrome OS usher in the next generation of cloud-based personal computing?

Wired Enterprise’s Cade Metz got the scoop that “Google will tightly integrate its new Google Drive online storage service with an upcoming version of its Chrome OS operating system.”

Chrome OS is Google’s effort to move all applications and data onto the web. First released last year on “Chromebook” laptops from Acer and Samsung, this lightweight operating system revolves around a single local application: Google’s Chrome browser. The idea is to streamline the way we use, update, and secure our laptop and desktop machines, and though it succeeds in some cases, the OS still hasn’t mastered the art of moving files from place to place.

By integrating Chrome OS with Google Drive — the online storage service Google introduced on Tuesday — the company seeks to correct this problem. “With Chromebooks, [Google Drive] is even more powerful,” says Sundar Pichai, the man who oversees development of the company’s Chrome products as well as its Google Apps online services, “because it just starts working naturally. Your local drive is also Google Drive. This makes it really powerful because you just don’t think about it.”

Basically, Google Drive — a service that operates on the web — will perform as if it was the local file system. If you open the ‘save file’ dialog box on Chrome OS, for instance, the system will take you straight to Google Drive. “We’ll … effectively integrate [Google] Drive into the native file system of Chrome OS,” says Scott Johnson, Google’s Google Drive product manager. “All the core OS functionality will use [Google] Drive as a place to store data — if that’s what you opt in to.”

Remember Gartner’s prediction that the Personal Cloud will replace the Personal Computer by 2014? With OS X Mountain Lion, Apple and Microsoft with Windows 8 are all gearing up for cloud-based computing. Google went prime time with the cloud with Play.

But Google, which many say jumped the gun with its full-on approach to a cloud-based OS in its first iterations, could bolster Gartner’s prediction by integrating Google Drive with Chrome OS, and make cloud-centric personal computing a reality.

If you are only willing to dip your toes in, at least for now, Google will integrate it into the Chrome browser on your PC as well, and the browser is where it’s at, writes Nathan Olivarez-Giles for GadgetLab:

Like Dropbox, Box, SugarSync and many other competing services, a desktop app for Windows and Mac OS X is available for Google Drive as well. But I see little advantage to using the desktop app over the web-based version of Drive.

And that’s just old-fashioned PCs. With Android smartphones and tablets, Google Drive seems sure to build upon Google’s cloud-centric mobile plans, he writes:

In the mobile app — which is currently only available for Android, but is promised for iOS — audio files are kicked out to music apps such as Google’s own Play Music or Spotify. Videos play back just fine in the browser, but in the mobile app, you’re once again kicked into another app to view your media. Rivals such as Dropbox, SugarSync and iCloud stream media without requiring a download or opening another app. It would be nice to see Google do the same.

On the Galaxy Nexus, the Google Drive app worked as well as any other app (e.g., People, Calendar, Maps) built into Google’s latest version of Android, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. With a clean, ICS-consistent aesthetic, it’s one of the better looking and easier to use cloud storage apps available for Android today.

Weigh in: Has the time come for cloud-based personal computing? Will Google Drive inside Chrome OS deliver that future? Or will you keep only your toes in with the browser and mobile use?

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