-Online storage service will store video, music and documents
-Will work with Androids and iPhones
-Several users can edit documents at once
-Storage system will also work with PCs - and Macs
-Basic service is free, premium versions up to $50 per month for large amounts of storage
By ROB WAUGH
The Drive service will offer seamless sharing of music, video and documents - and will work with iPads and Macs as well as PCs
'Just like the Loch Ness Monster, you may have heard the rumors about Google Drive. It turns out, one of the two actually does exist,' said the search giant today, confirming the existence of its long-rumoured online storage service.
Drive is a free storage system for videos, photos, documents, PDFs - and will allow users to 'drag and drop' their files direct from PCs or Macs instead of storing them on their own hard drives
The system works with phone apps on both Androids and devices such as iPhone or iPad.
It will also work with Google's current Documents, allowing several users to work together on a photo album, video or spreadsheet at once.
'You can get started with 5GB of storage for free—that’s enough to store the high-res photos of your trip to the Mt. Everest, scanned copies of your grandparents’ love letters or a career’s worth of business proposals, and still have space for the novel you’re working on,' says Google.
Google is expected to launch 'GDrive', an online storage service that will store large files online instead of in PC hard drives this week
'You can choose to upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or even 1TB for $49.99/month.
'When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25GB.'
Google search will also be a major part of the new service - including the ability to search for text in scanned-in documents.
'Drive can even recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article,' says Google. 'We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up.'
Google's London office: The leak suggests several users will be able to collaborate on one document - and share music and video freely
Google has been widely rumoured to be releasing such a service for weeks - and rivals have already begun to respond to the 'threat' posed by the search giant.
Online storage company Dropbox has made it easier to share content such as videos via its 50-million-user 'cloud' storage service, in advance of the launch of a rival from web giant Google.
Dropbox has altered its service so users can share simply by sending an emailed link rather than sharing folders.
Google HQ: Google sources told the Wall Street Journal that the new Drive service was a response to a response to the growth of web-connected devices such as smartphones and tablets, and to 'cloud computing' services which allow people to store files online instead of in PC hard drives
Microsoft's SkyDrive service has also been upgraded in advanced of Google's launch, with users able to drag files into SkyDrive from Windows 7 machines.
'Our gallery pages give your photos, videos, and even docs the gorgeous, full-browser view they deserve,' said Dropbox via a blog post this week.
'This means that people who follow your link can see pictures, look at presentations, and watch home videos without having to download and open them separately.'
Microsoft also offers similar - but paid-for - services such as Office365 and its free SkyDrive, previously aimed at phone users.
Google's service, though, is likely to be a simple, 'one stop shop' file storage system like Dropbox's, which allows users to store anything, anywhere.