Today Google announced that cloud file storage was coming to Google Docs. After quickly reading the details, my first response (and pretty much everyone else's) was MEH. Only 1G for free with no local syncing? I'll stick with Dropbox, thank you very much. Seriously after all these many years of G-Drive rumors that was all they could come up with? But after some further though I think we may be missing the real potential here. I say 'potential' because this is only speculation, and may not be Google's intent, but hear me out.
I had just about given up on Grand Central, and so had many other people. It is a cool idea and I really like it, but it seemed Google had no intention of actually doing anything with it. Well after 21 months, Google is re-launching it as Google Voice.
For those of us lucky enough to get in on the original beta, we should be able to convert over to the new service in the next few days. There are lots of new features, but the top two that impressed me are 1. Text messages to your Google Voice number to be forwarded to your mobile and elsewhere for you to respond. This is the tech gateway used in Google chat. 2. Voice mail transcription. Voice mails are transcribed and forwarded to you. The system is organized like Gmail and also lets you add notes and tags.
It should be pretty cool. I can't wait to try it out. I hope they fixed the one thing that was broken for me... the fact that you always had to press a number on the keypad to accept and incoming call - even from someone on your friend list. This had two major problems: 1. If you are on a bluetooth headset and your phone is in your pocket, you have to scramble to get your phone out to accept the call. 2. If you forward your calls to a soft-phone like Fring, you can't accept the call at all. This is because many soft-phones only give you a numeric keypad when dialing out, not when accepting an incoming call.
Google is bluring the line between desktop and web apps again. This time GMail goes offline. It is only experemental (in the labs) but it looks promising so far. When. Combined with chrome it becomes something that seems a lot like a native app. This is something people have been waiting for ever since they released gears long ago.
Ok so Google releases an open source phone platform with 34 members in what they call the Open Handset Alliance. It's free and will be put on phones ranging from HTC to Samsung. The OS is based on Linux and licensed under the Apache v2 License. Companies can develop custom functionality without contributing the source code back to the community. This is obviously aimed directly at Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Palm. The SDK for developers will be available by November 12.
I hope it isn't lost on anyone that Google just released the long awaited GoogleOS. It has been predicted that before long the majority of access to the web will be done through mobile devices such as phones. Conservative estimates claim there are between 2.5 and 2.7 billion mobile phones in the world and that mobiles outsell PCs at a 4-to-1 ratio. If this new platform takes off, Google is likely to have the dominant OS on the planet within a few years.
Some recent Google newness...
They have added the ability to do group chat to GTalk via a new online chat client gadget which also supports tabs as well as video and photo preview. They have also revamped Google Docs with more features and a new home page look and feel. On the maps side you can now manually re-route driving directions by dragging the route around visually.
One question; What's up with Google and Flash these days? The new GTalk gadget is flash based. And also the new Google Maps street view. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just curious considering that Google practically invented Web 2.0 / Ajax.