Google Docs Extends Functionality

Starting this week, Google will enable an offline function offering users the ability to view and edit documents while offline. Google is already looking to extend its functionality for remote and mobile users.

“The design goal is to create a seamless experience, with or without an Internet connection,” said Ken Norton, Google Docs product manager.

Google also announced that this functionality will soon be extended to their entire range of Google App products, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Talk, spreadsheets and other programs. Google Docs’ third component, an application to make slide presentations, will remain for now without offline access.

Expectation for offline access in Docs and Apps had been building since Google introduced its Gears open-source technology in May of last year.

Google is addressing one of the biggest objections to Web-hosted applications by allowing Docs and Apps users to work offline. Until now, offline access has required that users export their Docs files to third-party file formats, like Microsoft Office.

Google Docs, a free software suite available to anyone with a Google account, is aimed primarily at consumers, while Google Apps, designed mainly for workplace use, has been adopted mostly by small organizations.