As the feature rolls out, Gmail users will begin to see new thumbnail previews for files at the bottom of their email messages, including both photos and videos, as well as office documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets. Clicking on one of the file previews will then display the item in a full-screen image format. From here, you can basically interact with the file itself right from your Gmail inbox, with no need to first download then launch the file using desktop software.
However, if you do need to save the item for later viewing, you just click on the Google Drive button that appears when you hover over the preview. From the window that appears, you can click to save the file to your Drive, even choosing the folder where the item should be stored. If you still need to go the old-school “download” route, don’t fear – an arrow button will allow you to continue to do things in the traditional way.
This move not only supports interactivity between Google’s various online services, which could push more users to adopt Drive over competing services like Dropbox or Box, for example, but it also helps with Google’s larger “cloud” agenda. With Chrome OS, the company’s web browser-based operating system, Google forgoes the idea of “desktop software” altogether.