Google Reader was the first Google service which integrated Gears successfully in order to allow you to read your RSS subscribed feeds also when you're offline. There is an explicit button for downloading all your feeds for local access:
If you click on it, the downloading process will start:
Then, about 3 weeks ago, Google announced to roll out offline access also for its office service Google Docs. GDocs already experienced a lot of cool and useful updates recently. For instance they redesigned the menu- and toolbar completely and made it more "office" like and they added Gadgets sharing, charts and edit notifications to Spreadsheets:
The announcement of the offline access is for sure one of the most valuable features as I think. I mean GDocs is quite nice, but what if I'm not connected to the web. I cannot use it, and neither access my saved documents. But now with offline access it will work! The rollout of the new feature proceeds quite slowly and therefore you may not yet have it on your GDocs. I was lucky however :D Today morning when I switched on my notebook for quickly checking my mails, I switched to GDocs and look there! The offline button appeared!! I immediately started to try it out since I had Gears already installed for Google Reader. It just worked great. When you sign in, you'll first see the change on the menu-bar on the top-right corner. When you click on the "offline" link the first time you'll see the following screenshot for enabling the feature:
Once you enable it, GDocs starts to synchronize your documents:
When it's finished, a green icon appears:
Now you can just disconnect from the internet and start working offline on your docs (for now you can just edit documents, no spreadsheets or presentations and you cannot create new docs, just edit).
When you're offline, the icon is replaced with the following one:Moreover inside the document there is an appropriate area which notifies you that you're currently working in offline mode:
When you go back online, everything is synched back up magically. That's also what's great. You don't have to explicitly say: I'm online or I'm offline. Everything is done automatically. Regardless whether you're connected to the internet or not. Just type http://docs.google.com into Firefox's address bar and start working on your documents.
What happened to me however initially was that after I activated offline access the first time, I was no more able (also being online) to open any document. There must have gone something wrong during the first synchronization. So what I did to resolve the problem was to click on the green icon and then on "settings".
On this dialog I clicked on "Reset my offline access" and then I activated it again. Now everything worked fine and without any problems.
The next nice thing which I would even prefer more than GDocs offline access is to integrate Gears into Google Calendar. That would be really useful! I already tried the newly added Synchronizer for Outlook, but it doesn't work very well, since it just allows you to synchronize your main calendar and not any secondary one you added and then there are nearly no options for personalizing the process. For instance there is no way for saying to just synchronize all the future events. When I activated it, it synchronized me down all my entries of the last 3 years! Therefore I would appreciate to have Gears integrated there. Would be a nice addition.