A few days ago, 5 members of the Google Docs team conducted an “Ask me anything” session on Reddit where they answered a lot of user questions and provided some insights on upcoming features in Google Docs.
Looking at the Q and A session, it seems that Google Docs will soon roll out offline support for Google Docs documents which means you can create documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations directly from your desktop without connecting to the Internet. The idea here is that you will still need a browser (read Google Chrome) to create the documents but it won’t be mandatory to have an internet connection to create documents that would later be synced to your Google Docs account.
While you are offline, you would be able to open Google Chrome and create or edit your existing documents. The next time you connect your computer to the internet, the changes will be synced to your Google Docs account.
While Google isn’t saying when Google docs shall support offline sync, one twitter user just tweeted that he is seeing two links at the top of his Google Docs account – “Switch to offline mode” and “Switch to online mode”. Here is the screenshot Tom provides:
Looking at the above screenshot, it’s clear that the Google Docs account used above is a Google Apps account. There is a sweet “offline Docs” link at the left while features to toggle online or offline modes are provided at the right side.
Another Twitter user tweeted that he is also getting offline support for Google Docs in Google Chrome. The image provided by Kevin also reveals the fact that it’s a Google Apps account.
Though there are tens of thousands of desktop tools and apps available to manage or sync Google Docs documents from desktop, I am not a fan of any of them. This is because none of them support the so called “offline functionality” to fulfill the core needs. All they do is provide a new interface and some desktop accessibility but limited.
Take the example of Google cloud connect plugin. This tool lets you create Google Docs documents from Microsoft office or edit existing documents. That’s fine but the user interface is nowhere close. And neither the plugin offers any sync functionality, it still needs a working Internet connection to retrieve or upload the documents.
While apps are fine, I think it would be great if Google deploys native offline support for Google Docs.
Why Offline Google Docs Makes Perfect Sense
With Chrome OS netbooks already available on sale at Amazon.com, it is quite clear that Google wants to push their Chrome OS philosophy.
Chrome OS is ideally targeted towards web workers and individuals who work on the Internet. Users who store their documents and spreadsheets on Google Docs need a way to view these documents offline from the same computer, without having to download them over and over again. So if you have a Chrome OS powered netbook, you would be able to edit or access documents stored on your Google Docs account when there is no internet connection at all.
A browser based operating system still needs some offline goodness. And Google is well aware of that.