The forecast remained cloudy at Google I/O on Thursday as the search giant announced retail plans for its Chromebook lineup as well as a host of new Google Drive capabilities.
Google is making Chromebooks available at brick-and-mortar retail outlets for the first time. The devices will be sold in Dixons here, as well as US stores.
The search giant said it is working with Intel and other hardware partners on developing a new round of Chromebooks that the company said will start appearing in time for the holiday season.
Last month, Samsung announced the release of a new Chromebook and Chromebox, both of which coincided with Google's updates to Chrome OS. The Chromebook concept was familiar: an ultraportable notebook running Chrome OS, but the Chromebox offered a miniPC running the Chrome OS for people who wanted some screen flexibility in their Chrome OS experience.
Today at I/O, Google provided all attendees with a new Chromebox.
Google also made Google Drive available for iOS and Chrome OS, rounding out its cloud-syncing service for the already supported Windows, Mac OS X, and Android. On the Google Apps front, the company announced that its built in offline editing for Google Docs.
Meanwhile, Version 2.0 of the Google Drive SDK has been made available to developers, the company announced.
In a demo of Google Drive on Apple's iPad 2, Google showed that desktop syncing with the company's productivity apps is just the surface layer of Drive. Google Drive on iOS has some serious search horsepower, as you'd expect from Google—optical character recognition lets you search PDF files with a keyword, for example, and Google's image recognition technology works similarly well with photos.
Google described Drive in its own Chrome OS as "your hard drive in the cloud and we sync it down silently." Google Drive's integration with the Google Apps productivity suite of products allows for real-time collaboration with workhorse apps like Google Docs, the company noted, and the value of such light-yet-powerful solutions is converting an increasing number of business customers to the cloud, even large enterprises that have traditionally locked down their office software behind firewalls.