Seemless offline functionality built in.
It’s a simple change – but it’s a potentially game changing one.
Google Docs has now starting trialling offline access in a move that will bring the web-based application to the desktop in a way that should really start alarm bells ringing at Microsoft.
Powered by the revolutionary Google Gears, the enhanced Google Docs will automatically detect when a user goes offline – meaning no need to remember to save any changes – and download a version of the document they are working on to their desktop. This can then be edited offline and as soon as a user goes back online, the document syncs.
Initial limitations restrict usage to word processing documents, with presentations and spreadsheets coming at a later date. In addition some advanced functionality will be sacrificed but again Google is working to improve this over time.
Google has released a video of Google Docs running offline and it really does seem a Eureka moment. As is typical of Google, roll out will be gradual rather than all-at-once with users getting the functionality over the next few weeks (look for the online/offline button – pictured above – to appear).
Naturally, advanced users will still require the high level functionality of Microsoft Office – but for the unwashed masses out there, is there really much need to keep spending a small fortune on the latest version of Word/Excel/Powerpoint…?