A little over a year ago, Google officially changed the name of its Docs app to Drive and gave users cloud storage to compete with Dropbox. While the search giant has so far yet to dethrone the incumbent, the service does have one distinct advantage over the competition: a wide array of extensions and apps that integrate directly into the service.
Picture: Romain Guy/Flickr
Many of the apps listed here are actually standalone web apps. If you see something you like but aren't particularly keen on using Google Drive for your cloud storage, you can still use many of these services on their own. You'll just need to handle file management separately.
Web Apps for Drive
We recently covered some of the best apps for Chrome that you're probably not using, but Google Drive integration affords quite a few more options for dealing with your documents in a way that other cloud storage solutions do not. The following apps integrate with Google Drive, which means you can access them via Drive's web interface on any browser or operating system.
Drive Notepad Gives You Plain Text Editing
Drive Notepad gives you the ability to both read and create basic Notepad files, the format-less text documents Windows users are so familiar with. You can open these files in Notepad itself if you're on a Windows machine where you have Google Drive installed, but there's the default web app that you can open in Chrome too.
WeVideo Edits Your Videos
As we mentioned previously, WeVideo is great for performing simple video edits on the web. If you want your compilation to be a bit more portable, you can use Drive to store all your project files and assets in a single folder that you can access from anywhere. Keep in mind, of course, that video files can fill up space really fast, so if you plan to use this app regularly, you may want to spring for some extra storage space.
FloorPlanner Designs Your Home
Professional architects and interior designers may find this app a bit underpowered, but for the average person looking to map out their next home design project (or just experiment with new ideas), FloorPlanner is a powerful tool for designing and furnishing a virtual home. As with the other apps, files are saved directly in Drive and accessible on any browser with just a right-click.
PicMonkey Edits Your Photos
We previously mentioned Pixlr as a great option for editing photos, but if you're looking for something simpler with a less complicated UI, PicMonkey does a great job of adjusting things like contrast, exposure and colour levels. Both photo-editing apps can be opened directly from the right-click menu in Google Drive for any compatible image file.
Hello Fax Sends Paper Documents
Hello Fax allows you to send faxes or sign documents remotely. When you first sign up, you get five free fax pages, although the company offers promotions and incentives to earn more (for example, invite a friend and get five more free pages). For most average users, this would be plenty. From Google Drive, simply right-click a document and select Hello Fax under "Open With" to get started.
Extensions for Google Drive
It's not all about the apps. What use is a pile of applications in Google Drive if you don't have the files to use them on? These extensions will help integrate your Drive account with the rest of the web.
Save to Google Drive Puts Files a Right-Click Away
Perhaps the most useful Chrome extension here is Save to Google Drive (from the Drive team itself) which allows you to add a file from anywhere on the web directly to your cloud storage. It also has the ability to save a snapshot of an entire webpage, though since it has to create the image from several screenshots while scrolling down the page, the stitching can get a bit awkward sometimes. This extension will go nicely with Google's newly announced "Save to Drive" button that website owners can embed on their site directly.
Save Text to Google Drive Keeps Just the Important Text
If you need to save some text on a page but don't want to muck about with all the fluff, Save Text to Google Drive strips away everything but the unformatted text and creates a new plain text document in your Drive account. Because the files are so simple, this actually integrates extremely well with the aforementioned Drive Notepad app.
CloudHQ Syncs Your Cloud Storage Accounts
As long as your coworkers are still using Dropbox (and they do still have quite a few reasons to do so), you'll probably still need to interact with it at some point. With CloudHQ, you can sync your entire collection of files or just specific folders. You can choose either one-way or two-way sync, and there's even the option for a one-time sync if you just want to move some files over. It also allows you to access your files from directly within Drive via the sidebar.
Google Drive still has a way to go before it can take Dropbox's place as king of the cloud mountain (for example, copying the public link for a shared file in Windows Explorer is a needlessly complicated affair), but the web interface in particular has a lot going for it that Dropbox just doesn't (or can't) offer yet.
One final note on cleanup: if you try out any of the apps mentioned above and later decide you don't want them around (your Create dialog can get pretty cluttered if you install all of these), you can remove them under Settings in Drive's web interface. Just click Manage Apps to remove any applications you've linked with Drive, or to set defaults for which app should automatically open which type of file.