Google Takes Gmail, Calendar, Docs Offline: A Big Plus For Chromebook

Google has added offline access to its web apps such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs.

Offline mode is a key feature in Google’s Chromebook push, which is itself a plank in its battle with Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows.

Prior to the change, if you were offline, you couldn’t really use most of the Chromebooks, because you had to have Internet access to run almost everything on the devices. I’ve tested out a Chromebook, and despite some nice features, without offline mode it’s tough to use.

Now people can read or write an email, and archive or organize messages in Gmail while offline. They can also view or edit calendars or RSVP to calendar invites. Gmail and Calendar will sync once you get back online. Offline editing with Google Docs does not work yet but is coming. For now people can just view docs or spreadsheets offline. The changes have been expected since Google launched its Google Chromebooks at its Google I/O conference in May.

For offline mode to work, people have to install the Gmail Offline app in the Chrome web store. The HTML5 Gmail app is based on the Gmail HTML5 tablet app. Google previously had offline mode for some of its services with Google Gears, but it retired that service a while back.

With offline mode, Chromebooks will be a more viable option for everyday use, particularly with businesses, which are a big target for Google. Particularly in the enterprise, Google is pushing its Chromebooks as an alternative to Windows laptops. Google is renting the Chromeooks out software-as-a-service style. Businesses pay about $28 per month for the devices, which are automatically replaced with new machines after three years. The operating system is Chrome–you do everything in the web browser–which is updated automatically from the cloud. So IT managers don’t have to do massive upgrades as they do with Windows machines.

At the same time, the offline access only works in the Chrome browser. So people not using Chrome won’t have access to the new features.

No comments:

Post a Comment