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Category: Collaboration Tools (page 1 of 3)

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative?

Could Google Drive Be An Evernote Alternative? | 40Tech

So let’s talk. There’s been a lot of conversation around the web — and on this site — about possible alternatives for Evernote. Springpad was the goto app for many, though the most recent update has pulled them further away from that comparison, and drawn the ire of many users in the process. If you look at Springpad, though, as well as several other apps that offer services that are considered comparable to Evernote (Shelfster, Thinkery, OneNote and Catch, for example), you can define a general criteria for a note taking application that I think — no matter how odd it may sound — could also be met by Google’s latest cloud offering and the new face of Google Docs: Google Drive.

Stick with me. I’d love to have a conversation with you all about this.

 

First: What is Google Drive?

Google Drive is the latest cloud drive offering to hit the web jungle. It came out just this past week and has already been cited as a direct threat to Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, and all the rest. On the flip-side, it’s also received the standard Ahhhhh, Their Stealing My Private Information!!!!! treatment by the web media, as well — in this case, somewhat unfairly (more below).

Google Drive Features

Once you start using drive, you can say goodbye to the docs.google.com url. Your docs shall forever become a part of Google Drive. You’ll still be able to revert to the old Google Docs interface, for a limited time, but the default new dashboard is where you will start, and eventually end up.

Google Drive | New Google Docs Dashboard | 40Tech

 

 

Here’s the feature-set, in a nutshell:

Storage is low cost and in abundance. And it can take crazy large files, and allows you to view files most other services don’t. Sync with your computers and mobile devices (iOS coming soon) in the same manner as Dropbox.

  • 5GB of free storage space — and Gmail goes up to 10GB
  • Additional space starting at $2.49/month for 25GB, $4.99 for 100GB — all the way up to 16TB (these also up your Gmail to 25GB)
  • Google Docs don’t count against your storage
  • 10GB filesize limit per file
  • Upload up to 30 types of files –this includes Photoshop, Illustrator, movies, photos and more, as well as viewing of those files (graphic designers, rejoice! — and yes, this means movie and music playback, too)
  • Add and manage files from your desktop environment
  • Google Docs files (.gdoc, .gsheet, etc.) are actually shortcuts to their respective web editors, so don’t take up additional hard drive space on your PC
  • Offline viewing (offline editing is in the works, too)

Sharing, sharing, sharing! Collaborate! Individual files, folders, or your entire Drive…

  • Add a person, go public, or share a link — you can even give people without Google accounts editing capability
  • Send Drive links in Gmail to make sure everyone always has the updated version — no attachment worries
  • Or send Drive files as attachments, or even in the body of the email (classic Google Docs features)
  • Share photos and videos right from Google+
  • Easily view and manage files and folder shared with you
  • Collaborate on any type of file — comment and chat on any of your files, in real time
  • 30 days of revision history

Google Drive Sharing Settings | 40Tech

Search — including including OCR and Google Goggles

  • Filter by keyword, file type, file owner, and more
  • Search text in scanned documents
  • Find a photo using the search bar — Goggles can recognise objects in your images

Third-party apps. There are already several available on the Chrome Web Store, many of them free or freemium services. These apps will plug right in to your Google Drive allowing you to do all kinds of fun things. Some examples:

  • HelloFax lets you send free faxes right from Google Drive — it also has signature signing capability, as do a couple of other Google Drive apps like DocuSign
  • Pixlr and Aviary for Google Drive let you edit uploaded photos
  • SlideRocket can be set up to be your default presentation app
  • Revisu lets you share designs for feedback and track version history
  • Lots more available and lots more coming via Google Drive > Settings > Manage apps > Get more apps

Third Party Google Drive Apps | 40Tech

Any of you starting to see why I couldn’t help but compare it to Evernote? More on that, below.

What About My Privacy?

Google Drive’s privacy policy and terms of use came under fire almost the moment it launched. I have this picture in my mind of writers hearing about the launch and rubbing their hands together with glee as they consider all the readers they will be able to draw in with negative Google headlines. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Google may be the sweet face of Evil, and many of the concerns were and are valid — they’re just out of context.

Google’s Terms of Service states:

“You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.”

This is a good thing. But here’s where the confusion comes in:

“…you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones.”

At first glance, this is freaky — but the reality is that this is used so that Google can integrate Drive with its other services — for you, of course — and to provide the other functions of the service, such as OCR and image recognition. Of course, this also means they can use the content to better provide you with more accurate advertising, but this is something they do with their services already.

Bear in mind that they can also be compelled to give up your information to government bodies or law enforcement agencies if required to by law. This is a standard thing that applies to every online service that houses its servers in the United States.

All of these things can be found in similar fashion in the Dropbox terms of service — and even the Evernote terms of service, though some may find Google to be a bit more ambiguous. Personally, I find the Amazon Cloud Drive terms of service much more frightening.

What does this all mean? Only this: Google’s scary privacy points are, in this instance, not so different than any other online drive’s terms of service. Does this mean there aren’t potentially frightening possibilities; that it’s all really candy and roses? No. Not unless you consider that the candy and roses could be laced with Rohypnol, that is. But these privacy issues are simply the risk you take when you put your files and personal information online. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be concerned, just that you need to make the same decision, no matter what cloud service you use.

 

Next: Google Docs vs Evernote

Evernote Google Drive
Sync between devices (including mobile) Yes
Offline viewing Yes
Offline editing Not Yet
Collaboration Yes
Sharing Yes
Keyboard shortcuts for quick launch With tweaks (custom shortcuts)
Rich text editing Yes
Easy organization by notebooks and tags Yes, but with folders (no more tags)
Powerful search Yes
OCR Yes
Add attachments Yes
Search within attachments Yes
Third party integrations Yes, with more on the way
Add content by email Not at the moment
Web clipping Only manual copy and paste works at the moment
Low cost Yes
Upgradeable storage Yes

 

NOTE: You can create desktop shortcuts to open new Google Docs files, and then add custom hotkeys to those shortcuts to easily open new “notes”. The same urls used for the shortcuts can be used to create a dropdown in your browser’s bookmarks bar, although one bookmark, loaded in the browser sidebar is a great option for Firefox. The URLs you need are in this Google Document: http://bit.ly/IIiHAo. I’ve also added the shortcuts I decided to use, while testing. If there’s interest, I’ll do a full how-to on this.

New Google Document Shortcut with Keyboard Shortcut | 40Tech

NOTE: You can also add Google Drive to the Windows Send To context menu by typing %APPDATA%/Microsoft/Windows/SendTo to a Windows Explorer window – press enter. Then open another Explorer window, create a shortcut of your Google Drive, then drag it to the Send To folder you just opened. Now, when you right click on a file, you will be able to send it right to your Google Drive (this is based on the Windows 7 OS and also works for Skydrive and Dropbox).

 

Where Google Drive Wins

Google Drive allows you access to a full office suite, from full document and spreadsheet creation to presentations. It will also allow you to handle files more easily, as well as have real-time, collaborative conversations within the files/notes themselves. For people who want to have a powerful suite that they can leverage in nearly the same way as Evernote, then Google Drive could be a very good option. The same goes for people who don’t like the new Springpad, but find that Evernote just isn’t enough for them.

 

Where Google Drive Lacks

The lack of speedy clipping is an issue for me. This can be overcome with some simple copy and paste, or with extensions like Send to Google Docs (turns a whole web page into a PDF and sends it to Google Docs), and will likely no longer be an issue once some enterprising person or business creates an app for just that, but for the moment it is a bit of an annoyance. Not a deal breaker, though.

Web Clip of 40Tech Article to Google Drive by Shortcut, Then Copy Paste | 40Tech

The other thing is that it is just not as straightforward as Evernote. The workarounds I put together make it easier to get going, but I find that the keyboard shortcuts I created sometimes fail until I remake them in the shortcut’s properties. And as I’ve mentioned in posts before, Evernote is really good at the simple things it does: taking and organizing notes. Once you add all the extra power and options of Google Drive, then you run into the potential of it becoming unwieldy, unless you manage it really well.

 

So there it is, my curiosity and thought process laid out before you. Your turn now! I want to know what you think — feasibility, practicality of application, pure ridiculousness, et al. Let’s chat about it and see what we can come up with as a group!


Rizzoma May (Soon) Be the Wave Alternative You’re Looking For

Rizzoma May (Soon) Be the Wave Alternative You're Looking For | 40Tech

In our last post on Google Wave, we talked about the impending final shutdown of the service on April 30th, 2012 (it is currently in read-only mode), and the potential for Apache Wave and Walkaround to keep the real-time collaboration tool going. We’ve even done a bit of hunting on our own for a suitable Wave alternative, but the reality is that Wave was a bit ahead of its time. Fortunately, another possibility for resurrection has surfaced: Rizzoma.

Rizzoma is a free, open source version of Google Wave that boasts some improvements to the look, feel, and function of the service. Some of the features they talk about on their site are an easy to use mobile version that actually works, improves search, the ability to to assign and track tasks within Rizzoma, easy team management and content sharing, and a built in mindmap mode.

Screenshot 1Screenshot 2Screenshot 3Screenshot 4

Rizzoma also promises the ability to re-install your favourite open source gadgets from Google Wave, and the ability to import your old Waves to the new platform.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that Rizzoma’s current level of marketing far outstrips the actual state of the product. Their website looks very promising, with a big button that says log in with your Google account and a video that makes you believe that the service is ready to go. I don’t know if it was an oversight on their part that they don’t include a note that the service is in beta and most of the truly awesome features are still on their way, but the reality is that a newcomer to Rizzoma will likely find themselves confused and disappointed. At least for now. After a bit of hunting on their support forums, I found that the bulk of what’s promised should be available within a month.

Right now, @mentions work, basic document creation, editing, and collaboration is available, the mobile version is functional, and the improved look and feel is on point. Importing your old Waves is also working, via the WaveShortcuts Chrome extension created by Project Volna — who are also the people behind Rizzoma. Importing your Waves via the extension is fairly simple, and the final result is readable and usable, though huge Waves with a lot of nested upon nested replies could get a bit unwieldy.

If you have been on the hunt for a Google Wave alternative, or are just looking for a real time collaboration tool that works across platforms, Rizzoma looks promising, despite the potential marketing/first impression snafu. If they are true to their word about getting the big features up and running effectively within a month, then we may finally have a winner here — proivded they can get enough support. Rizzoma is definitely the most promising Google Wave alternative I’ve come across so far. If you are at all interested, you may want to check them out and start importing your Waves now, as the time window is closing fast.

Check out the video below to see where Rizzoma is taking Wave:

 

Learn how to import your Waves to Rizzoma:

 

Check out Rizzoma and tell us what you think!


Producteev Gets a Massive Upgrade: Android App, Windows Desktop App, and an All Around Makeover

Producteev Gets a Makeover | 40Tech

Producteev, one of our favourite  — and one of the best — to-do apps, has released a massive upgrade that includes some long-awaited features and platform updates. The web and iPhone apps have gotten a makeover, the much clamoured-for Android app has finally arrived, and there is now a Windows 7 desktop app to balance out the Mac version. Even the logo has been updated (bye bye Tasky the beaver)!

To top it all off, Producteev has added a few new features into the mix — and yes (drumroll), that does include sub-tasks…

Check out the video below for the overview of some of the new functionality in the multi-platform task manager.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBnzWfAdVQs

There have been usability and visual enhancements across all apps, improvements to some of the main Producteev feature-set (discussed in previous posts), and some brand new features such as integration with TaskRabbit (a service for crowdsourcing small tasks), the ability to print tasks and export them to CSV, as well as the aforementioned sub-tasks.

Now, I know many of you have been waiting patiently for sub-tasks, but don’t get too excited. At this time, sub-tasks are really nothing more than a checkable list added to the top of the main task’s detailed view. There is no way to interact with them outside of that view, or to add specific dates, labels, or anything else. Also, they don’t appear to work in the mobile apps yet, either. Hopefully, there will be improvements, and soon, especially in the case of the missing mobile integration.

The Android app is great. I can now use Producteev with my wife’s phone just as easily as my own, and with an interface that’s nearly identical to the iPhone’s. As Producteev mentions in this post, however, Android users should be aware that the new app is in beta. Don’t expect an error-free experience, just yet.

As always, Producteev is free to use for workspaces that have one or two people. If you want to collaborate with larger teams, unlimited people and storage space can be had for $20 USD per month (it gets cheaper the more workspaces you buy).

Update: Google Calendar integration has been temporarily disabled due to stability issues. It should be back up and running within the week — and it will be better than before. Two way task-sync with Gcal, folks!


Google’s Cloud Connect Syncs MS Office with Google Docs

Google’s Cloud Connect Syncs MS Office with Google Docs | 40Tech

There are several ways to sync Microsoft Office documents to the cloud (we covered three here), but until now, not one of them was made by Google. Whether that statement sparks feelings of warm and fuzzy quality in you, or makes you shudder in fear as Google officially digs its fingers into your Office docs, Google Cloud Connect has taken off the training wheels and been released to the world at large. Besides, if you are of the latter persuasion, chances are you haven’t bothered with the Google account that the service requires.

Cloud Connect adds a toolbar to the Microsoft Office interface that effectively accomplishes two things:

  1. Giving MS Office the online capabilities of Google Docs — and this is a good thing, as Microsoft’s cut-down web offering of Office can be somewhat unwieldy by comparison.
  2. Finally gives Google Docs the offline capability it has always needed to make it truly relevant in today’s workplace, which is still a few years away from going fully to the cloud.

Google Cloud Connect works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, and is available for Office 2003, 2007, and 2010. Check out the video below for more information on its capabilities.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H12teRzulW0

New Ways to Experience Better Collaboration with Google Apps [Google Blog]


AirDropper: An Easy Way to Request Files — and Have Them Sent Straight to Your Dropbox

AirDropper: An Easy Way to Request Files -- and Have Them Sent Straight to Your Dropbox | 40Tech

Recently, we talked a bit about Ge.tt, an extraordinarily easy way to send files to people without having to talk them through how to receive them. But what if you are the one who needs a file sent to you, and you want to make it as easy as possible to get that request taken care of? You could explain Ge.tt to people (it really is easy), or you could be a bit more direct and use the tool that one of our readers brought to our attention: AirDropper. After all, when you need something from someone, the best way to get it is to require the fewest steps possible — and to sweeten the deal, AirDropper uses your Dropbox folder, so you will be able to access the file(s) from anywhere.

Getting set up with AirDropper is pretty straightforward. You head to www.airdropper.com and click START. You will then be redirected to Dropbox to authenticate the AirDropper service, which will add an AirDropper folder in your Dropbox folder. Once that’s done, you will head back to AirDropper, and will be presented with a form that allows you to send an email (from your email address of choice) to multiple recipients to request files. The email contains your message, and a large, friendly button that says Upload and brings the user to an even friendlier ADD FILES interface. The file or files — AirDropper has supported multiple file sends since about September of 2010 — will then be sent directly to your Dropbox with no fuss, no muss, and not a worry except for your storage limit.

Note: If you are sending sensitive files, be sure to have a look over the AirDropper terms of service first.

AirDropper is free while in beta, but will likely charge for some of their service in the future, which will likely include tiered pricing for things like the size of the transfer(s), etc. Either way, it is definitely a useful tool!

Thanks to Martin for bringing it to our attention!