What’s taking so long for HTML5 offline support in Google cloud apps like Gmail, Docs, Calendar and Reader?

The technical capability was there with Google Gears, and Google even helped get offline app cache implemented in HTML5. Yet Google Gears support (and with it offline access) was disabled in Google Docs at the beginning of May in favor of HTML5, with the promise of it returning soon, and in June 2010 for Google Reader (perhaps permanently, which would be a shame). It’s been more than six months, and while the Chrome Web Store brought various offline-capable web apps, Google cloud apps were not among them (although some apps developed by Google were, like Clock and Scratchpad). Even the mobile version of Gmail has offline access with HTML5 (although Eric Schmidt did say Google has a “mobile first” strategy). When the Chrome OS pilot program was announced, Google Docs offline support was said to be coming early this year, so it’s safe to say it’s right around the corner. I would say the same about Gmail, considering the amount of time it’s been (and in June 2010, a Gmail engineer said Gmail’s offline support would eventually be migrated to HTML5). Furthermore, offline support is a very important feature, especially with Chrome OS, and when Google wants Google Docs to replace desktop software. The fact that Google Docs and some other Google cloud apps can only be used with a reliable connection is a major hindrance to moving entirely into the cloud (which is what Google seems to want). Offline support through HTML5 must surely be coming soon — but I’ve been thinking that for months, so what’s taking so long?

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