How to use the new Google Drive mobile app

The Google Drive mobile app has undergone some radical redesign.

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Image: Google

It's about time the Google Drive mobile app had a refresh. However, for users who aren't ready, this new take on the old standard might cause some double (or even triple) takes as to what happened to the interface. Why? Because what Google has done is quite a shift from what Drive users have grown accustomed to.

In fact, this new UI might seem confusing at first. Gone is the simple layout of files and folders. In its place is the means to more easily navigate Google Drive.

Just how different is the new interface? Let's take a look.

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All about the tabs

When you launch the new Google Drive app, you will find a row of tabs at the bottom of the window (Figure A). The default tab (named Home, but should be renamed Files or Most Recent Files) is a list of your most recently accessed files.

Figure A

Figure A: The most recently accessed files.

Scroll through that list to find the file you want to open. However, in that Home tab, you won't find the usual listing of folders, as this is nothing but files.

To gain access to your folders, tap on the Folder tab (far right tab - Figure B). Oddly enough, this tab is named Files. Although you can access your files, you must navigate to them via the folders. This tab should be renamed Home, as it is the root directory of your Google Drive account (and the only way to access your Drive folder hierarchy).

Figure B

Figure B: The Files tab should be named Folders.

From the Files tab, you can add a new item (such as folder, upload, scan, doc, sheet, or slide) by tapping the + button. You can also add a folder (or file) to the Starred tab, by tapping the menu button for the folder/file in question and tapping Add to Starred (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C: Adding a folder to the Starred tab.

From that same menu, you can share the item, copy a share link, and more.

The Starred tab (Figure D) is exactly as you expect--every item you've starred in Drive.

Figure D

Figure D: The Starred tab gives you quick access to starred items.

The final tab houses any items that have been shared to you (Figure E).

Figure E

Figure E: The Google Drive Shared tab.

The Drive menu

From within any tab, tap the Drive menu button (three horizontal lines in the top left corner) to reveal the Drive sidebar (Figure F).

Figure F

Figure F: The Drive sidebar gives you access to features not found in the tabs.

From within the sidebar, you get access to Recent items (which is a bit redundant, given the nature of the Home tab), offline items, trash, notifications, backups, settings, help, and storage options.

So much white

With Drive, Google opted to follow in the footsteps of the rest of the UI landscape and go with a distinctly white palette. I know a lot of people have made their disdain for this change known, but for me, it's a welcome one. The new Drive interface, with all that stark lack of color, is the cleanest yet. And with the new tabbed interface, navigating the app makes more sense than ever. It might take a bit to get used to the new layout (especially given the odd choice of tab names), but once you do, you'll find it the most logical evolution of the app to be released.

It should take no time to get accustomed to the new Google Drive mobile app interface. Even if you dislike change, this new release should still please you. It's clean, easy to navigate, and works flawlessly.

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