Google intros Drive for Work as new premium option for Apps users

Google Drive has grown to attract more than 190 million users, for work and play, to date. Now the cloud service is taking a new turn to draw in more businesses.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO---Two years after emerging as the next step for Google Docs, Drive is going premium.

Looking to cater to more businesses and bring them into the paid Google Apps realm, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is tacking on a premium option, dubbed Google Drive for Work.

The package consists of unlimited cloud storage space with extra audit reporting and security controls at a rate of $10 per user per month. Under this plan, users can store files up to five terabytes in size.

Scott Johnston, director of product management for the Google Drive team, boasted in a related blog post that there is not a desktop or laptop on the market today with a hard drive big enough to capture and store a file that size.

Being that Google Drive now sees more than 190 million active users, for both personal and work use, the platform is poised for a turning point.

Some of the new advanced features include an API audit for developers, access to the Google Apps Vault for e-discovery and compliance answers, and support for industry-specific security certifications, such as HIPAA for healthcare.

Furthermore, Google promised all files uploaded to Drive will be encrypted, both when in transit between devices and Google data centers as well as at rest on Google servers.

The mobile versions of Drive for iOS and Android are also being refreshed, promising cleaner interfaces and faster performance.

The next turn for Drive was mapped out amid a slew of other product announcements and upgrades unloaded at the Internet giant's annual developer summit, Google I/O, at tech expo hub Moscone West on Wednesday morning.

Drive overall has been undergoing a number of changes lately, in terms of both features and pricing.

In March, the Google Drive pricing structure shifted thanks to new infrastructure improvements behind-the-scenes, seeing the entry level option (not counting the free 15GB giveaway) drop from $4.99 to $1.99 for 100 gigabytes of space.

Then in May, Google pushed out standalone apps for Docs and Sheets, highlighting (if not somewhat distancing) the productivity functions from Drive's cloud storage unit.

These moves point toward a realigned strategy for the collaboration portfolio to bolster it against business and consumer-focused cloud platforms alike, namely Microsoft Office 365 and OneDrive, Dropbox and Box, among others.

But the productivity features aren't being left out in the cold.

Johnston touted that the "power of Quickoffice" has been baked into Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, making it easier to edit Microsoft Office files from Drive on PCs and mobile devices.

This means users can open and edit documents with native format Office Compatibility Mode directly in Android and Chrome browsers. Support is scheduled to be extended to iOS "soon."

Drive for Work launches globally immediately. Current Google Apps customers can initiate upgrades from the Admin console. Prospective subscribers can contact Google directly.

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