One of my primary criticisms of online office suites such as the ones from Zoho and Google has been their lack of offline functionality. While we’re hopefully moving toward a future with 24/7 everywhere connectivity, that’s still decades away, and a lot of workers currently spend several hours a week working offline or on less reliable Internet connections. That makes offline functionality a must-have for productivity apps.

Today, Zoho launched its first fully offline-capable application, with the help of rival Google, ironically. Using the open source project Google Gears, Zoho has released a new version of Zoho Writer with full offline editing capability.

Now when you open Zoho Writer, there’s a Go Offline link in the top navbar. When you click that link for the first time, it prompts you to install Google Gears (see below).

After you install Google Gears, you click the Go Offline link again, and Writer will download the first 15 documents in your My Docs directory. See a video screen capture that demonstrates the new offline capabilities of Zoho Writer.

Back on November 15, Zoho made an important refresh to Zoho Writer that included updates to pagination, enhanced headers and footers, “Print using PDF” functionality, spell check in 43 languages, and improvements to compatibility with .doc files. Those updates, along with the new offline functionality, has made Zoho Writer an increasingly viable word processor for business users. TechRepublic will be testing these features and writing further about Zoho Writer in the coming weeks and months.

Zoho has said that it will soon enable offline capability in other applications as well. I would recommend Sheets and Notebook as the next best candidates.