Google has announced that it plans to introduce placeholders on Google Drive. The search giant is currently beta testing the new feature, which is officially called Drive File Stream, with the help of G Suite users part of the Early Adopter Program.
Drive File Stream enable users to access content stored in their Google Drive account without actually downloading it on their device. It works similarly to Dropbox Smart Sync or OneDrive placeholders on Windows 8.
The way that cloud storage services normally work, if you want to view the contents of a folder on your device you have to download the files first. If it’s a large folder, that can make a lot of space lost in the process — which is especially problematic on devices like smartphones and tablets.
Placeholders, on the other hand, let you view the file structure and only requires you download files when you need to open them. This not only gives you the benefit of having more space available — or not having to worry about making space for that content in the first place — but it also saves you time, as the download is much smaller in comparison.
“With Drive File Stream, you can work with Drive files directly from the apps you’re used to, like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Any changes you make to files in those apps are saved automatically to Drive and can be accessed from any of your devices later,” explains Google.
Drive File Stream is designed to work on both Windows PCs and Macs. There is no word yet on when the feature should be available for consumers to beta test as well. For the moment, you need a Business, Education or Enterprise account to be able to apply for the beta program.