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Google Docs (not Gmail) may be next to get Gears support

Could offline access and editing be headed to Google Docs?

One of our hits from 2007 was Google Gears, and our predictions for it was that many Web applications would begin to integrate it over the course of 2008. Already that prediction looks to be coming true, with what appears to be the first signs that Gears is coming to Google Docs and Spreadsheets. The discovery was made earlier this week by Google Blogoscoped's Tony Ruscoe. He was able to edit document names and star them, but not open or create any documents without getting sent to blank browser pages.

Ruscoe's not letting anyone in on how he managed to do it (the comments uncover talk of secret URLs), but from his results, it seems there's not much there yet.

Online office competitor Zoho has had Gears integrated with its word processor since November of last year, and it works surprisingly well. Users can download a large number of their documents, and make changes locally before syncing back up.

Making changes, creating new documents, and searching through items while offline is what makes the idea behind Gears so enticing to road warriors and the dwindling population of dial-up users. Gears would make Google Docs and Spreadsheets more like a local software application than a Web application. Google Reader, which lets you read up to 2000 blog posts from various RSS feeds, has had this feature since late May of last year, when Gears was first introduced. There has also been talk of Gears integrating with Google Calendar, and even Gmail, although there haven't been many signs from Google that the feature is forthcoming besides a small blip back in October.