Google Launches Offline Google Calendar

In another competitive bid against Microsoft and Yahoo, Google lets users access Calendar for Google Apps without being connected to the Web. Coming a week after the launch of Gmail offline access, the new development makes Google Calendar potentially more useful to enterprise users.

Google took its offline activities one step further on Feb. 5 with the enabling of offline access for Calendar for Google Apps, which will allow users to check their schedule and events even while not connected to the Internet.

The offline calendar is available to users of Google Apps Standard Edition, as well as Premier and Education Edition; the latter two groups will need to have their domain administrator activate the offline option by checking the box next to "Turn on new features" on the settings page.

Last week, Google announced the launch of Gmail's offline access, a move seemingly tailored to pull enterprise users away from Microsoft and Yahoo, both of which had previously offered offline-ready e-mail.

The ability to access calendar events without being connected to the Internet is potentially vital for business users, who may need the information while on the road and away from wireless hot spots, or in unwired office spaces.

It is of particular use to the "road warrior" species of business travelers, who can find themselves stuck for hours at a time on airplanes with a need to access data, despite a lack of Internet connectivity. Traditionally, this frequent-flier demographic has tended to fall back on Microsoft's Outlook client, which has offline functionality.

In offline mode, Calendar for Google Apps allows users to view events, but not edit them. Clicking the "Offline Beta" link beside the account username will activate the offline synchronization process.

As with the offline version of Gmail, users must install Google Gears browser technology before they can use the calendar offline.

Joyce Sohn, marketing manager for Google Apps, noted one potential benefit of an accessible-everywhere calendar on the Official Google Enterprise Blog: massive savings in paper. "You don't have to print out calendars the night before a trip."