Google has just announced new versions of Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Gmail that will work offline in Chrome.
Google apps are great because you can get your work done and collaborate with other people on any platform with a browser. We even use Google Docs internally for managing our stories here at Walyou.
But Internet connections aren’t always as reliable as they should be. Wi-Fi connections are notoriously flaky, or at least that’s been my experience. And the power occasionally goes out as well, as many people who were in the path of Hurricane Irene are no doubt discovering.
If your Internet goes down or you lose power and you happen to be on a laptop with a fully charged battery or have a UPS, you can keep working even when your neighbors are cursing their routers or power companies. Or you may be on a bus or a train and not have Wi-Fi and don’t want to pay through the nose for mobile broadband. In any case, these offline Google apps may be for you.
These HTML5-based apps are well-designed and attractive. When you do get back online, they’ll sync seamlessly back with the web-based versions of the Google apps.
It’s not the first time Google has made their apps available offline. Google Gears allowed users to store their data from Gmail and other apps on their local machines before the project was discontinued.
Diehard users of other browsers may resent having to use Chrome with these apps, but since HTML5 is an open standard, perhaps the other browsers will make their offerings more compliant with the standard as it gets nailed down. If Google is serious about its mission to make the Web a serious place to work, they would also target these apps to work on all browsers, not just Chrome. Still, the functionality shows that Web apps are achieving parity in functionality with desktop programs, and perhaps even surpassing them.