Finally, Google reinstates offline use of Gmail, Docs and Calendar
In what seems to have taken forever to happen, Google has finally reinstated offline use of its popular Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar programs. Previously, this function was enabled by Google Gears. This without a doubt is a key feature for making the search giant’s cloud computing vision a success.
Google realizes if it wants to be a serious competitor to Microsoft Office, its cloud computing services have to be available outside of wireless coverage, like in subways, on airplanes, and beyond urban centers. Soon Chrome users can indulge in offline Gmail access, which lets people read and write messages using address auto-completion, respond to others’ messages, apply labels and stars, and archive messages, said Alex Gawley, a Google senior product manager.
Now for the bad news. The offline features initially will only be available to users of Google’s Chrome browser, people will only be able to read word processing documents and spreadsheets (no editing), access to Gmail will be limited to a separate Web application (not the regular Gmail Web app), and when it comes to offline calendars, people can read them offline and respond to RSVPs, but not create new calendar entries. Its not perfect, but it’s a start.
Having these capabilities is something near and dear to my heart. When I’m working, I use a Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, and before today’s announcement there wasn’t any offline access available in the event my network were to go down. Now, I’ll be able to install the Gmail Offline app, which will launch like any other Chrome app from Chrome’s new-tab page, and according to Google the app is available today, I know because I just installed it.
The offline access for Google Calendar and Google Docs is added directly to those Web applications, but aren’t available at the moment, they’re set to arrive sometime this week.