Google Drive Now Lets Workgroups Track File Changes More Easily

Google Drive gets a new "activity stream" to help users in workgroups see which files have changed over time.

Google has added a new "activity stream" to its Google Drive cloud storage service so that users can see whether files have been changed by others since the last time they accessed them.

The activity alerts aim to make it easier for workers who share files with others on Google Drive to stay aware of the latest changes and updates in their workgroup files, wrote Ian Gunn, a Google Drive interaction designer, in a Jan. 14 post on the Google Drive Blog.

"Drive makes group projects easier because everyone can share files and work together," wrote Gunn. "But in today's busy world, it's tough to track the changes to all your shared to-do lists, budgets and presentations, especially when content changes so often. So starting today, you'll notice a new activity stream in Drive—a single, easy-to-view place to review every action taken on your files and folders."

To use the new feature, users can open drive and then click the ⓘ button in the top right corner, wrote Gunn. The activity stream will then appear and display information about which users have taken action on files and folders in the My Drive folder, he wrote. "You'll see a rundown of what your team has been doing, such as editing and commenting on notes, adding a new spreadsheet, renaming a presentation, and more."

Users can also choose to only access the files they are interested in by selecting any file or folder, which will change the stream to display the relevant files and information.

Other useful Drive features were introduced in December 2013, Gunn wrote, such as simpler file and folder renaming, sharing, organizing and more, through a new drop-down menu at the top of each shared folder. "Below this menu you'll see the entire folder hierarchy so you can jump to a different folder with a single click," wrote Gunn. "And you can see profile pictures to help you understand exactly who has access to the shared folder."

The new activity stream will be rolled out to all users through this week, according to the post. More information about the new features is available on the Drive support page.

Google Drive was launched in April 2012 after six years of planning and talks about its intentions to introduce a cloud storage service.

In May, 2013, Google enabled those with Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photo accounts to put all their files in a unified place, rather than having to maintain separate storage areas depending on what kinds of files were being stored. That meant that instead of having separate 10GB and 5GB storage areas for their files, users can now keep their data in one 15GB storage bin, simplifying file archiving and storage. The 15GB accounts will continue to be free. Storage can be expanded if desired, with 100GB accounts available for $4.99 a month and 200GB accounts for $9.99 a month. The combined storage was made possible because as more Google products have been refined to work together, it made less sense to keep their storage repositories separate.

Also in May 2013, Google updated Drive by giving it a new chat capability, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Users of Google Drive's Docs and Slides capabilities can now have a chat session that is similar to the ones they can use in Gmail. The feature is available to users of Google Apps for Business, Education and Government.