Google has started rolling out the offline support feature for Docs. The company has been working on this for quite a while, more than a year now, and the launch has already suffered several delays, but, unfortunately, what Google has launched now is very, very basic offline support that doesn't address the most common use cases.
Offline support in Docs needs a dedicated web app
, available for Google Chrome only, other browser users are out of luck.
Once installed, the app will enable users to access some of their most recent files even without an internet connection. But access is limited to viewing the file and only to documents and spreadsheets.
Google announced last week that offline support was coming for several of its apps, Gmail, Docs and Calendar, soon. It is now working in Docs for some users, but it hasn't been rolled out to all users.
Like with Gmail, Docs users have to install a dedicated app to access their files offline. The files can be browsed via a simplified alternative interface
to the regular documents list page.
Only documents and spreadsheets are shown, since drawings and other files can't be synced offline yet. Users can then open the files and read them, but there are no editing options, a big oversight.
Without editing, the use of the offline feature is limited. It may come in handy if you have to catch up on some documents or analyze a spreadsheet without an internet connection, but that's about it.
Support for more features while offline is clearly in the works, but it seems evident that Google is having a much harder time implementing the feature than it initially believed.
Ironically, Google offered much better offline support for Docs and Gmail, with full editing capabilities, with Gears, a technology it deprecated earlier this year.