Google on Tuesday announced a new way to send files in a move that further links together its cloud services: you can now directly insert files you host on Google Drive into an email on Gmail. The new feature is rolling out “over the next few days” and is only available with Gmail’s new compose function (so you’ll need to opt-in if you haven’t already).
Though Google is touting ease of use, the benefits are mainly of storage size: the current attachment limit on emails in Gmail is just 25MB, while this new feature means you can insert files up to 10GB of files. As Google notes, this is a 400-fold increase.
Furthermore, because you’re essentially sending a link to a file stored on Google Drive, all your recipients will have access to the latest version in your personal cloud. On the one hand, this means they will always get the most-up-to-date version, but on the other hand it means they won’t have locally-stored versions if they use a desktop email client.
Last but not least, Gmail will now also verify that recipients of your email have access to any files you’re sending (including Drive links pasted directly). If not, you’ll be prompted with the option to change the file’s sharing settings, again without leaving Gmail.
Let’s take a closer look at what the limitations here. The restrictions for Gmail attachments are as follows:
With Gmail, you can send and receive messages up to 25 megabytes (MB) in size. Please note that you may not be able to send larger attachments to contacts who use other email services with smaller attachment limits. If your attachment bounces, you should invite them to Gmail.
Google is circumventing its own limit, much like Microsoft has done for Hotmail/Outlook.com and SkyDrive. Microsoft’s offering is a bit different, but it’s the same concept: Outlook.com lets you send files uploaded to SkyDrive up to 300MB in size, and SkyDrive gives you 7GB of free storage. Google Drive offers 5GB of storage for free.
The goal for both companies is the same: get their email users to use their cloud storage services. Start them off for free and hope they’ll pay for more storage when they run out of “free space” (both meanings apply: free as in gratis and free as in unused storage).
Image credit: Mark Burdine