by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 30, 2013)
First, there was Google Docs. In 2006 Google introduced their Web-based, cloud-based word processor and called it "Docs." Why? Because it was a cheap, easy way to create documents, or "docs" for short. In time Google added other online applications that performed other tasks, such as a spreadsheet, presentation slides, drawings, and other common elements. This suite of applications was, collectively, referred to as "Docs."
However, the folks at Google realized that "Docs" was no longer descriptive of what this suite had grown into. Even though it took them until April 2012, they finally came up with a brand name to describe their growing suite of applications: Google Drive.This name became the new moniker for everything that used to be simply known as "Docs." In fact, if you visit the official Google Drive website (drive.google.com) you'll see that the name is still in transition. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. The Google Drive home page implicitly recognizes the confusion in names.
That being said, old habits die hard and people still continue to use the name "Docs" to refer to the basic suite of applications. That's OK; its human nature to resist change. Understand, though, that if you hear someone refer to "Docs," you will need—for some time to come—to get clarification as to exactly what the reference is for.
So, in the modern world (well, as of this writing), there are five applications directly in the Google Drive suite, by default:
You can also add additional applications by "connecting" them to Google Drive. (More on how you do that in another tip.) Google Drive also includes an optional component that allows you to store and access information that you've stored "in the cloud," meaning on Google's servers. This, it appears, is where Google Drive really got its name—as an extended, off-your-local-computer drive used for storing information you can access from most anywhere. In this regard, Google Drive isn't just a competitor to Microsoft Office, but also to cloud services such as Dropbox.
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