The hugely popular online office suite, Google Docs is now available offline too. Google announced Doc's offline capabilities on a blog post in the official site a couple of days ago. With this feature, users will be able to access and edit documents while offline and later connect to internet and synchronize it with its online version.
But to obtain such functionality, you will have to install Google Gears, which is an "open source project that enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to your web browser". Gears is cross platform, cross browser compatible, so no need to worry over its availability. With this plugin installed, you will be able to open your documents even when you are not connected to the internet. The changes that you make to the document are stored in the machine itself. Later when you are connected to the internet, these changes gets uploaded to the server.
Here is the official video demonstrating this cool feature:
The inclusion of this feature might be the main reason why people would like to use Docs. It stores files on servers, so no need to worry about the document getting lost. At most the changes that you make might get lost. It is quite sufficient for regular word processing use. Of course it leaves a lot of room for improvement if we compare it to the full blown office suites like MS Office, Open Office or Start Office, but for an average user it proves very beneficial. The ability to access the documents from anywhere is is great bonus along with its integration with other products from Google.
Now the most important question, will an average user switch over to Docs fro this feature? ... well most probably they won't. But the Docs users have something to rejoice about. As for me, I am happy with MS Office and Docs has to go a long way, till it can attend that status.
So what's next? ... maybe a office suite from Google !! I mean an actual desktop office suite which integrates with Docs. This might be the future, as I feel that this "running a software within the browser" severely limits the functionality of the software. To rope in the power users a complete offline version will be best. Lets see what Google gifts us next, they never cease to surprise me.