Google today announced a new feature for its online storage service Google Drive that will allow users to more easily launch the files they have saved in the cloud using their preferred desktop applications. The feature is not rolling out to the core product, however, but is instead available as an optional Chrome extension. Once installed, users will be able to right-click on applications stored in Google Drive and open them using a compatible application on their computer.
Users must also have the latest version of the Drive app for Mac or PC installed (ver. 1.18) and their files synced to the computer in order for the extension to work.
It seems a bit odd that Google – a company pushing users to move away from desktop apps like Microsoft Office in favor of its own online office suite — is now trying to make it easier for web users to continue to use desktop programs. But the idea is more about blurring the lines between the desktop and the cloud. Desktop apps and Google’s Docs, Sheets and Slides are put on the same playing field, in a sense, with this addition.
It’s also an acknowledgement of sorts that there are some users who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t fully transition to a cloud application. Maybe they use a specific feature that Google’s office suite doesn’t support, or maybe they’re just comfortable using familiar tools like Microsoft Word or Excel. Maybe their job requires more complex software that Google doesn’t offer online.
This extension, minor as it may seem, could help cajole these users into moving their workflow to the browser. Once there, they can begin to take advantage of the features that come with storing their files in the cloud, while still working in their favorite desktop programs — whether that’s a competitive office suite, more advanced video or image editing tools, 3D animation software, design tools or anything else.
Google says the new extension is rolling out over the next several days.