Mountain View (CA) – Google announced this week that it is now allowing users to access their files in Google Docs, an online suite of Microsoft Office-type software, even when they don’t have Internet access.
The functionality comes as an extension of Google Gears, which lets users create a hard copy of every website they visit so they can view it later when they’re offline.
Google Gears is facing competition from Mozilla’s Prism and Microsoft’s Sync technologies, both of which are still in development. With Prism, Mozilla is trying to make every online application available in offline settings. Making Google Docs accessible offline seems a direct answer to that.
Google Docs, which include free Web-based clones of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, have only basic features. Their main draw is the ability to collaborate with other users online. By taking them offline, Google contends, users could work on a Google spreadsheet file while on a plane and then immediately post it online when they touch down.
“This is still early days. We’re working to make more Web applications and functions work where connections are unavailable,” said Google.