The launch of Google's new cloud storage and collaboration service this week has convinced several competing companies to upgrade their own services -- and not simply with more capacity at the same or lower price.
On April 24, after more than six years of talking about it, Google released its Google Drive cloud storage service, which gives users 5GB of free file storage. If they choose, users then can upgrade to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month and 1TB for $49.99/month.
In response, other services have stepped up and sweetened their offers.
Dropbox Gets More Competitive
Dropbox revealed a couple of new features. One is that it has expanded its automated photo/video upload service to include most cameras, PCs, tablets, connected SD card or smartphone. After images are uploaded, users can view them on the Web from Dropbox's new Photo Page.
Be aware: By signing onto the service, Dropbox automatically expands a user's storage capacity by 500MB for the first upload. Once that 500MB is filled up with the camera Upload function, another 500MB will be added; this process keeps repeating up to a total of 3GB.
Dropbox's second feature, announced April 23, is that a simple link now can be sent to non-Dropbox users to share a file or folder. With one click they can preview the file in a browser, whether document, photo or video without having to sign up for Dropbox. They won't be able to edit or change it in any way while it is in that queue, however.
Business presentations, home movies--even entire folders--can be opened and viewed immediately without having to sign in, download anything or open files separately. Nonetheless, the receiver of the link does get the option to save that photo, video or PDF or other document for later by either downloading it or saving it to their own cloud storage account.
This is one of Dropbox's strengths: to create simple tools for syncing and sharing files across various devices. Its local folder syncing is available for PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android and BlackBerry devices. Dropbox offers 2Gb free, and then 50Gb of storage for $99 a year.
Microsoft SkyDrive Value-Adds
Also in an effort to cut Google off at the pass, Microsoft updated its SkyDrive cloud service, which is connected with Windows Explorer. It features similar drag-and-drop transfer of files to the service and photos from any Windows Phone smartphone automatically that shows up there.
SkyDrive gives users remote access to a central PC, wherever it might be located. It also allows users to stream video from it, something that Google Drive or Dropbox -- or most other services -- do not offer at this time.
The SkyDrive service is available as an iPhone, iPad app and Windows Phone (obviously) application. The price and free capacity out-maneuvers that of Google Drive; the first 7GB are free, and 50GB of storage costs only for $25/year.