I consider myself optimistic about Google’s vision for completely web-based computing, but it’s not going to happen without an online storage solution that can replace the act of saving files locally.
Cloud Save, a new extension for Google’s Chrome browser (spotted first by DownloadSquad), takes us part way there. The extension adds an option in Chrome’s right click menu that lets you save files directly to online storage services such as Box.net, Flickr and Google Docs. You grant permission for Cloud Save to access each of these services the first time you save to them, and a notification box pops up when your file has saved successfully.
On the most basic level, Cloud Save eliminates a step if you’re trying to move a web file to an online service. If someone sends you a funny picture, for instance, you just Cloud Save it instead of downloading and then uploading. But by skipping that step, Cloud Save also bypasses the need for local storage when saving files from the web. It’s the kind of feature that Google should bake directly into Google’s Chrome OS, the web-based operating system that will launch in notebooks later this year.
Google is still grappling with the issue of saving files in Chrome OS. You’re allowed to save locally, but it’s a rudimentary system meant for temporary storage, and anyway, the idea of storing a file offline just to put it back in the cloud defeats the purpose.
Still, Cloud Save doesn’t solve the whole problem, or even the biggest part of it: Once your data is uploaded, other web services can’t access the data unless they support that specific storage service. So let’s say I want to edit one of my Picasa images in Pixlr. That’s not a problem, because Pixlr allows you to import images from Picasa, Flickr and Facebook. But I’m out of luck if I want to import an image from Box.net or Dropbox.
If Google were to create its own storage service (like the mythical GDrive), I’m sure you’d see support from a lot of web services. At that point, Cloud Save becomes the missing link that lets users save files without local storage. In Google’s ideal world, Cloud Save, or something like it, would be an integral part of the operating system, not a random third-party extension.