As the rest of the blog gears up for that upcoming big game (something to do with football I’ve been told), my head remains firmly in the clouds. Or The Cloud as the case may be.
Choose Google as your main cloud provider if your best flat screen TV happens to be a GoogleTV capable product, if your phone or tablet runs off of Android, if you regularly need to share documents, and if you find yourself using home theater equipment with DLNA on the label.
Perhaps the strongest thing Google has going for it is the integration of document sharing with its services, allowing a fairly heavy amount of collaboration between people for spreadsheets, text documents, presentations, and a few other less common document types. Storage for almost anything on Google Docs is essentially unlimited (with a few restrictions).
For videos and photos, Google offers Picasa. You can set up Picasa to automatically upload photos and videos taken from your phone, or those stored on your computer. Previously, the system only allowed for storage, but recent updates (and Google+ integration) make it more similar to a Facebook stream, letting you tag photos and identify people in them. However, Picasa also allows you to edit photos by adding effects. Google has also announced plans to incorporate more tools with Picasa and Google+ that allow for more robust editing. As far as storage space is concerned, with Picasa the sky is the limit — as long as you keep your photos under about 2000 x 2000 pixels and your videos under 15 minutes.
While Google allows for free storage of almost anything, only 1GB is available for free. Past that, every 4GB of storage costing around $1 per year (in specific intervals of 20GB, 80GB, 100GB, and so on all the way up to 16TB of online storage).
Google’s Music service is still an early offering — it came out of beta this last November — but seems to be shaping up as a strong contender against Apple’s services. Google Music allows you to upload up to 20,000 songs to what can best be described as a storage locker, and then stream them from or download them to any device that can get to a web page, or from apps available on the best Android tablets or phones. If you’re also a Google+ user, you can even share a single play of a song you’ve bought with your friends.
The downside to Google Music is, that because it’s so new, there aren’t any home theater devices equipped for direct streaming.
DLNA (the Digital Living Network Alliance) found on the best flat screen TVs, Blu-ray players, and other home theater components, is also getting a nod here.
This isn’t because it’s run by Google (it’s not) but because Android devices tend to be the only ones that are DLNA compatible. This allows phones, tablets, or your computer to stream music, pictures, and movies directly to a DLNA compatible device.
The Cloud isn’t all party lines, though. Next, we’ll take a tour of services that run on (almost) any device. In the meantime, take a second and give us an idea of how you use the Google Cloud in the comments.