Google has launched a cloud-based storage service called Google Drive that will allow consumers to store photos and other content online.
The new service offers 5GB of free storage with a monthly fee for additional storage, according to a Google blogpost.
It uses optical character recognition (OCR) technology that allows users to search for keywords in scanned images. It can be installed on Macs, PCs and on Android phones and tablets, and can be accessed by blind users with a screen reader.
Google said it was also "working hard on a Drive app for iOS devices".
Richard Edwards, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, told Computing that the new service will differ from similar offerings such as DropBox because it will integrate with Google's other applications.
"Google is bringing together its disparate services by providing a unified storage service which GoogleDocs and Gmail connect to.
"It is different to Microsoft SkyDrive which is struggling to juggle various services of that nature, and it will also set off a chain reaction as Facebook may attempt to add similar capabilities either through very close partnering or making an acquisition," he suggested.
Edwards also said that Google Drive could be a concern to IT departments.
"The chances are that employees will be using these services to do more than share family photos and videos," he said.
"Corporate email systems are notorious for their strict storage quotas and message attachment size limitations so if an employee wanted to share an engineering drawing or large PowerPoint file it makes sense to use a service like Google Drive or DropBox to get the job done.
"However, once an organisation allows employees to use these services, they are losing control of their intellectual property, and this is something that needs to be thought about by the CIO and senior staff," he added.
Edwards said that businesses may also find it hard to prevent users from using Google Drive services.
"An application for an Android phone is currently outside of the control of the corporate IT department so there is nothing they can do about it.
"However, businesses may decide to go for Google's business package if they feel that it is the way business users want to progress, and this could deliver the same or similar functionality to Google Drive [but be managed by the corporate IT department]," he said.
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