Chromebooks continue to acquire new offline functionality
Adding to the still small, albeit growing, list of things that can be done on a Chromebook while it’s offline, Google earlier this week updated the Google Play Movies & TV Chrome app with support for offline media playback. Coming at a time when Chromebook availability is being expanded to nine new countries, the ability to watch your favorite movies and TV shows when stuck with a Chromebook without internet access is definitely a positive development from both the standpoint of usability and marketability.
SimCity fans are about to their most requested feature
Maxis Emeryville has a New Year's resolution, one that you're going to like. It's to implement an offline mode for SimCity, which Maxis Emeryville GM Patrick Buechner said will roll out as a free download with Update 10 to all SimCity players. Users have complained since SimCity's release of the requirement for a persistent Internet connection, especially when EA's servers were having trouble.
After being absent for over a year, offline functionality finally returned to Google Docs in September 2011. This time, though, things were slightly different as the feature was powered by HTML5 and not Google Gears, and offline access was restricted to viewing alone. On Thursday, the second day of Google’s annual I/O developer conference, Google made things much better by announcing the return of offline document editing for Chrome and Chrome OS.
Are you the sort that loves to come home, boot up a game like Fallout, Mass Effect, or STALKER and just take a break from the world? Well then, you probably won't like what EA Games label president Frank Gibeau recently saw when he peered into his crystal ball.
“I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads; they’ll tell you the same thing,” he said during an interview with Develop. “They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.”
“Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.”
Fellow introverts of the world, join us in pouring one out for the days when millions of bunny hopping, tea-bagging loudmouths weren't constantly breathing down your neck. Well, don't literally join us. Being around other people makes our skin crawl. But you know what we mean.
To figure out what time it is in a location-that-isn't-yours, you usually have to click through a series of menus in Microsoft Windows' Date and Time screen. And once you're there, you aren't given a very elegant way to select your time zone of choice--heck, Windows 7 doesn't even give you the pretty flat map of the world anymore. You have to pick your time zone, rather boringly, from a small drop-down menu of locations and hour offsets.
It's hard to deny the power of Google Docs, especially if you don't have the cash (or the wherewithal) to shell out for Microsoft Office. Sure, you could grab OpenOffice.org, but you would trade away the ability to edit your documents from any Internet-equipped location-one of Google Doc's important, Cloud-based features... as well as its ability to allow multiple users to simultaneously edit a document. You just can't get this kind of stuff in an offline word processor!
Of course, that's not to say that you can't use Google Docs offline. Nor are applications like Microsoft Word completely removed from the Internet-there's Microsoft Office Live for that, if you're so inclined.
Anyway, the point of this Freeware Files is not to confuse you in feature-lists or semantics. I'm here to show you just how easy it is to set up your system to use both offline and online word processing tools. Provided you're ready to jump into the wide world of Google Docs, all of the freeware and open-source applications listed below will do much to help integrate online editing and storage into your traditional offline type-type-typing.
The Google Gears blog has been pretty quiet lately, and for a good reason. It appears the project, at least in its current state, is soon to become an orphan. Its no secret that Google is a fan of open standards, and they feel they are fairly close to duplicating all the functionality of Gears, but using HTML5 instead of a separate browser plug-in. “We're not there yet, but we are getting closer. In January we shipped a new version of Google Chrome that natively supports a Database API similar to the Gears database API, workers (both local and shared, equivalent to workers and cross-origin wokers in Gears), and also new APIs like Local Storage and Web Sockets.”
Google is promising to support the older version of Gears until the new HTML5 edition has fully matured, but curiously Safari on OSX Snow Leopard is being dropped because it would require a “significant engineering effort to support due to large architectural changes”. Firefox 3.6 users who have been left in limbo since its release will be happy to hear an update will be coming soon, but I fully expect it will be the last.
Gears has always felt a bit sluggish, so let just hope HTML5 can infuse some much needed pep into Google’s offline services.
Has it really been a year since Google rolled out Offline Gmail? The exceedingly useful feature allows users to compose, sort, and search mail when no internet connection is available. Now Offline Gmail is leaving Google Labs and becoming a permanent part of the Gmail experience. The feature, as implemented, uses Google Gears to create a local storage cache. This is somewhat interesting given Google’s plans to ditch Google Gears and move to HTML5. Will the offline features be updated prior to the release of Chrome OS?
Coinciding with Offline Gmail’s departure from labs, Google has added two new features that were requested by users during the testing period. Gmail will now allow users to decide which messages are downloaded for offline use. You can now also queue up attachments to mail while offline.
If you haven’t been using this feature in the labs, you’ll still need to enable it in settings. If you’ve been using it this past year, what’s your experience been like?
Ahh, TechCrunch50 time. For those outside of the Valley, otherwise known as "The Know," this is the time of year when legions of startups (47) descend onto a common stage under the TechCrunch banner, all eager to pitch their next, greatest idea to a field of hungry judges and enthusiastic audience members.
Every time this happens--or every time any show similar to the TechCrunch50 goes down--I always look forward to the new batch of oddly named Web applications that I'll probably never hear about again, let alone actually use. For this, I have but one source to blame: open data. Just because there's an API or the free-flow of information outward from a single popular source doesn't mean that one always has to make a spin-off project. But if you build it, they will indeed come. The developers, that is, and they're always looking to cash in on the next big variation to an already successful idea.
I'm not exactly sure why this is the case with Web applications and why it's not always mirrored in open-source or freeware software development. What is it about a Web platform that makes it such an intriguing breeding ground for rip-offery? Is it really that easy to create a Web mashup of two social networks instead of pouring the same amount of effort into, say, a new instant messaging application?