Google Apps users may be noticing an “Offline (beta)” link in the upper-right corner of their Google Calendars. That’s right—Google’s rolling out offline browser access to appointments, and, for once, Apps users get first dibs. If you see the offline link in red, hit it and, if you’ve enabled any other kind of Google offline access with Google Gears, like Offline Gmail, you’ll get a familiar experience. You’re prompted to enable offline access, and to install Gears if you haven’t already:
If you’ve already got Gears installed on your browser (supported on Chrome, Internet Explorer 6 & 7, Firefox 2 & 3, and Safari 3), your calendar will hook up its first event synchronisation. Lifehacker received offline access this morning, and since our shared staff calendar isn’t stuffed with events, the first sync took less than a minute. Google doesn’t make it clear in its Offline Calendar FAQ if there are any limitations to the number of events synced, backwards or forwards, but it’d be hard to imagine not getting everything. If they can afford the bandwidth to give you about 10,000 of your emails, attachments and all, it’s hard not to believe the simple text of ical data isn’t a gimmie for their servers.
Once you’re synced up, you get really basic options on your Settings page to manage which calendars you want synced to your account. Enabling offline access seems to only grab the default calendar on its first try:
The big drawback—and it’s a surprising one, given the leaked screens from July 2008—is that offline Calendar is read-only. That means no editing or adding to events when you’re away from the net. There also doesn’t appear to be a “flaky connection mode,” a la Offline Gmail, that tries to connect only when you do something new—you’re either online or off with GCal, at least in this Google Apps offering.
What’s your take on Google’s version of offline calendars? Google Apps users, are you finding everything on your calendar synced up, or are there limitations? Tell us your findings and feelings in the comments.