Extend Drive’s capabilities with apps

Google_Feb26_AGoogle Drive – Google’s cloud storage, collaboration and document creation suite, is gaining popularity amongst business users. At first glance there isn’t a whole lot there. Sure you can create basic documents, spreadsheets, presentations and store them in the cloud, but you can’t do much else. Did you know that there are some excellent apps that are deeply integrated with Drive and can extend its capabilities? A recent update to Drive makes these apps more prominent.

Starting in mid-February, you might have noticed a slight change to the layout of the drop-down window when your press Create in Google Drive. Now, you see all apps in a list, regardless of if they are Google’s apps (Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, etc.) or from another companies. You can add apps to Drive by:

  1. Opening Drive and pressing Create – located in the left-hand side of the window.
  2. Pressing Connect more apps.
  3. Selecting an app you would like to add to Drive from the pop-up window.
  4. Hovering your mouse over the picture of the app should show more information. Press Connect followed by Ok. You should now see the app when you press Create.

Most of the apps you connect to Drive will allow you to open files, edit and save them directly from Drive. If you connect an image editing app, you can right-click on any image in Drive and tap on the app’s icon to open it using that app.

An app for everyone
If you browse for programs to connect to Drive, you will see that there some really great ones that enhance what you can do with Drive. You will find these by pressing Create in Drive followed by Connect more apps. You can search for them by name, but you should see them all on the first page. Here’s five that may help your business:

  • Gantter – For project scheduling, it allows you to open, edit and save Microsoft Project documents directly from Google Drive. While it is free, there are a number of user permissions that are required that could go against your security plan, so be sure to read the permissions carefully. Free.
  • SlideRocket – While Drive does have Presentation, it can be a little plain at times. If you want presentation software that rivals PowerPoint, and is even easier to use, this is a good choice. Free for the basic app, subscription plans start at USD$24 per user/month.
  • HelloFax – The fax machine isn’t as popular as it once was, but you will likely need to occasionally fax documents. This app allows you to fax documents directly from Drive, and you can also attach a signature to any document. Plans start at USD$9.99 a month for 500 faxes, and an unlimited number of users.
  • Pixlr Editor – If you need to edit photos, and require something with more advanced features like those found in Photoshop, Pixlr has them. This app can open and save files directly into Drive. Free.
  • Lucidchart: Diagramming – This focuses on one thing: diagrams. Create and collaborate on professional looking flowcharts for projects, visual work processes, etc. Free 14 day trial, monthly fee from USD$2 to $5 per user/month thereafter.

While many of these apps aren’t free, they are affordable, especially since you can use them directly from Drive, which means there is no need to purchase extra programs. If you find that you don’t want to use apps you have installed, you can remove them by clicking the cog at the top right of the Drive window and selecting Manage Apps. Find the app you no longer want and press Options followed by Disconnect from Drive.

If you would like to learn more about how Drive can help improve your company’s ability to collaborate, why not contact us? We may have a plan that fits your business.

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