Google has brought its cloud mail and cloud storage services closer together, with Google Drive now functioning to share files that would normally be sent as email attachments. Gmail users are now able to directly attach files stored in their Google Drive to emails, with recipients able to access the files through Drive rather than downloading them in the traditional manner.

On a Gmail blog post, Gmail product manager Phil Sharp described the integration as "a new way to send files". When sending an email, the Google Drive logo can be found under the attachment icon in the newly-restructured Compose screen.

This inter-linking is largely achieved by prompting the email's sender on the permissions of their Google Drive files. When sending a file that is not already shared with the email recipient, Gmail presents a prompt with two options -- to share that file with anyone who accesses the link (allowing sharing beyond the initial sender and recipients), or to share that file with only the recipients of the email. If the second option is selected, recipients must have a Google account.

This provides attachment-like access within emails for files of up to 10GB in size, which is the maximum size of any one file on Google Drive. Google Drive users are given 5GB of storage when they initially sign up for the service, although it is possible to purchase additional storage -- 25GB for $2.49 per month, and 100GB for $4.99 per month. Gmail accounts have 10GB of storage as standard, and a maximum file size of 40MB for traditional email attachments.

Google Drive and its predecessor Google Docs have had sharing and collaboration features for some time, but this move into the mainstream with Gmail gives both services more visibility.

This most recent move follows another integration between two other Google services -- Google+ and the Play store, where users' reviews of apps, books, magazines, movies and Google Nexus devices like the Nexus 10 tablet and Nexus 4 smartphone now appear with their Google+ user name and picture.