Only select consumers to get this ‘new look’ Gmail for now

For some time now, the cap on the size of email attachments have been hugely outdated across email services. The more tech-savvy among us have already moved to cloud-based file hosting services such as Dropbox, Microsoft’s Skydrive and latest entrant Google Drive.

But this week, Google Inc announced in a blogpost that it was upping its game. A new feature, which is being rolled out over this week, allows users to attach files up to 10 GB. Compared to the measly 25 MB that was being offered early, making it impossible to send anything but text files or resized pictures, the 10GB offer is something that will open up new possibilities in sharing content.

However, this new feature is available for those who have signed up for Gmail’s new ‘email compose experience’ (that uses a floating screen giving email a messaging-like look and feel), which was launched in October. This is still in its testing stages and offered only to a section of email users.

In essence, what you’re really sending is a link to a file hosted in Google Drive, much like what you would do when you use any of the cloud-based file sharing services. The only advantage here is that you don’t have to sign up for or move out into another service; you can do it from the comfort of your email inbox.

According to Google’s blogpost, now with Drive, a user can insert files up to 10GB that is 400 times larger than what you can send as a traditional attachment, from Drive directly into an email. An added advantage is that as the file you are sharing is stored in the cloud, recipients will have access to any changes that you may make in the file even after you have sent the file.

Given that the service is not yet accessible for all, there’s a lot of excitement and impatience on online forums to use this new service. But given bandwidth issues and poor network speeds that continue to dog our experience, there is room for a dash of scepticism. A small test attempt to attach a movie file (around 4GB) to email on a fairly basic Internet network (which promises the usual 100 MBPS speed) failed after 10 minutes.

Trilok Nathan, a software engineer who tried to use the service from the home network, says that while the move was indeed exciting, and opened up a world of opportunity, without high-speed networks, “it's a bit of a waste.”