Google has reportedly been testing offline support for Google Docs, with a member of the Google Docs team confirming that it will begin roll out later this summer.

While Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 is about to launch, Google is looking to offline in order to grow.

Offline Google Docs will also have huge repercussions for Google's Chrome OS, which has been criticised for being unusable when there's no internet network available; but if you can still edit documents while offline, it could become much more useful.

Offline edits

Writing in a Q&A thread on Reddit, Jeff Harris of the Google Docs team said, "You're going to see offline 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 HTML5 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."

He also explained how the service will work:

"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."

Some people have started seeing some of the tests surface on the current Google Docs iteration, with a black bar flashing up on screen offering the opportunity to switch between on- and offline modes.

Via Google Operating System blog