To understand why, you have to first look at how Google handles offline access now, a feature also found in Gmail and Google Calendar in addition to Docs. At the moment, these web apps go offline if and only if you’ve installedthe Google Gears browser plugin. Unfortunately, not all browsers can properly run this plugin. For example, Mac’s Snow Leopard OS and Safari 4 web browserintroduced some features which were incompatible with Gears on newer Mac computers. Internet Explorer users could never view spreadsheets offline and users of “alternative” browsers, like the Mozilla-based Flock for example, had tojump through hoops to make it work. And Google Gears on the iPhone? Forget about it.
A better solution is HTML5, the next revision to the markup language used to code the web. The benefit to making this switch is obvious: HTML5 is aweb standard, not a browser plugin. That means it will be supported across web browsers and operating systems, assuming users have updated to a modern browser instead of continuing to run IE6 (who are you people, anyway?!) It also means that Apple can’t kick it off the iPhone and iPad the way they did with Adobe’s Flash plugin. In fact, it means that Google doesn’t have to worry about Apple’s restrictions at all, the way iPhone and iPad application developers do. Google just has to build a mobile-friendly website using standards-based technology. The end result will be an Internet-based document creation tool and editor that can work anywhere, anytime, even when the Internet doesn’t.
And that, in a nutshell, is the future of the web. Mobilized applications that behave like desktop apps, available with or without an Internet connection and that work on any device. Even the iPad. We can’t wait to try it out.
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