Chromebook: Offline with Google Docs

Offline Google DocsWhen it comes right down to it, there isn’t much that a Google laptop can really do without access to the internet, whether through WiFi or a wireless data plan. But that’s just the way Google intended it – a laptop specifically for browsing the web. However, there are times when you simply can’t access the internet, and some things need to be taken care of. One thing that might become an issue involves Google Docs. Much like with various other office suites, such as Microsoft Office, many people will desire the ability to do their writings, spreadsheets, etc. offline. Will Google oblige these wishes and allow Chrome laptops to support offline Google Docs? Or will Chromebook users have to continue to rely on the internet for their simple writing tasks?

Eh…What’s Up, Google Doc?

Before delving into the issue of offline Google Docs, some of you may not even be aware what Google Docs are (the two of you out there). Well, Google Docs is an office suite and data storage service based online.  Designed by Google, it has many of the features that other programs have, such as writing up documents, filling out spreadsheets, and preparing presentations. And with 1 GB of free storage (with more included with a payment plan), all files are stored online.

In fact, since Google Docs is meant to be used online, multiple users can collaborate with each other on any given task. That means you and your friends can “meet up” to do a group project without having to leave the comfort of your Chromebook! Speaking of which, Google Docs is actually quite popular among college students, so this wouldn’t be a bad idea.

So What’s the Problem?

Back in 2008, Google added a feature that allowed users to use Google Docs whilst offline. However, in 2010, that feature was scrapped due to various technical difficulties. Needless to say, that change made things a bit inconvenient for some. But later that same year, it was announced that this offline feature would make a return, being promised sometime in Summer 2011.

And now here we are; it’s almost Fall 2011, and not an offline Google Doc in sight. Interestingly enough, though, there was a report of one user seeing a black status bar at the top of their browser window, which read “Offline Docs,” “Network connection lost,” “Switch to online mode,” and “Switch back to offline mode.” As the offline feature for Google Docs was supposedly being tested by Google themselves (probably for the release of their Chrome laptop), this is especially weird.

The absence of an offline mode for Google Docs normally wouldn’t be that big a problem, but there are times when you simply don’t have internet access. Maybe you don’t even have service at your house to begin with. Of course, there are 3G versions of the Google laptop, which allows users to achieve internet access via a data plan, but many users won’t want to have to pay by the megabyte for simply writing documents and such. And many users may not even have service (Verizon) where they live, go on vacation, etc.

So all we can really do now is wait. It’s coming. But when? With Summer coming to an end, all we can say is that you should expect to see offline Google Docs in the very near future.

  1 comment for “Chromebook: Offline with Google Docs

  1. John Macpherson
    October 11, 2011 at 20:18

    I’ve just been given a Chromebook to “beta test” for my company… and I certainly DO have offline storage for Google Docs… but what I don’t seem to be able to do is use this for more than 1 Google account. So if I log in to the chromebook using another Google account I can only work online. Although I’m not sure if this is due to my other account using my own domain name, or just (as I was told by our technical guru) that only 1 account can store offline… if the latter, why?!

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