This week, Google fired at Skype's success with talk of baking a VoIP service into Chrome. Meanwhile, offline support was confirmed and we waved farewell to IE 7.
Uncle G was reportedly testing offline support for its cloud-based Docs service for some time. Several "offline mode" features have been appearing, and observers noted that it might be the promised holy grail of cloud-based document management.
Then at a Reddit Q&A discussion thread, Google Docs product manager Jeff Harris confirms that "offline [will] start to roll out later this summer."
We used to have offline with Google Gears, but it became pretty clear that plugins weren't the right approach. We've been reimplementing offline using HTML 5 standards like AppCache, File API and IndexDB.
We're some of the first web apps that are really putting those standards to the test, so it's taken a while to iron out the kinks."
Harris explained the general idea of Docs offering offline support, saying it's basically a combination of caching and syncing.
The long-term direction is, if you access a Doc URL while offline, it should open the local copy of the doc and let you edit. When you go online, all your edits get synced in the background. You should also be able to see a list of your docs while offline.
We'll need to work through all the tricky problems with how to merge conflicting edits. It's fun stuff."
Seems likes like there’s nothing Google won’t do to spoil the Office party. With a major announcement due next week on Office 365 where Steve Ballmer "will share the news," Google already this week has announced integration with Box, and now has made it easier to use Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office.
In both cases, it will enable users to make the best of all the features of Office documents. In the case of Box, it means being able to edit and collaborate on Office documents stored in Box. With Cloud Connect, you’ll be able to sneak documents out of Office and work on them in Google Docs.
Skype may want to watch its back. Shortly after releasing WebRTC, an open-source software project for audio and video chat, the great Google is beginning to build it into the Chrome browser.
We originally guessed at the coming features when Google acquired Global IP Solutions (GIPS), a company specializing in Internet telephony and video conferencing. WebRTC ultimately originated from this move.
Currently, WebRTC uses two audio codecs from GIPS, iSAC for high-bandwidth connections and iLBC for narrowband connections. For video, Google's open-source and royalty-free VP8 codec is used.
The official e-mail went out to Google Apps administrators this week: As of August 1, Google will only support modern browsers across Google Apps. For Internet Explorer 7, Safari 3 and Firefox 3.5, this means the end of the line.
For Google, the reason behind the cuts this time around goes like this: "To give users the best experience with Google Apps, we need the capabilities of modern browsers to deliver features such as desktop notifications for Gmail and drag-and-drop file upload in Google Docs."
In other words, HTML 5 is needed for these little perks, and older browsers just aren't able to bright this to the table. Of course, not everyone agrees that cycling them out entirely is the way to go.
“Google Apps is a closed web application that you must register for,” pointed out Aaron Gustafson, Easy Readers co-founder. “For that type of product, supporting really old browsers while simultaneously trying to innovate is a financially risky move. At this point, we're already talking about Firefox 6 and Internet Explorer 10, so sunsetting IE7 and Firefox 3.5 seems like a no-brainer."