By Trisha Lyn Fawver
Last week, Google announced that Google Calendar will be available to view offline. They’ve already offered users the ability to view Gmail offline at the end of January, and last week’s announcement both excites and dismays me at the same time.
There’s been a lot of talk in the last two years about the move from desktop-based computing to cloud computing with the widespread adoption of Google Documents, Google Calendar, and other online services that have slowly replaced traditional software applications for many astute marketers and business people. In fact, taking a look at the schedule for the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco later this month you’ll see several sessions regarding cloud computing.
Is Google bringing the cloud down to Earth?
Yes and no. I suspect that what Google is doing is just the smart thing in times like these—trying to please as many people as possible with their services. I’m a daily Google Calendar, Documents, and Gmail user, so I appreciate what they’ve already done in terms of the iGoogle homepage and the mobile applications they offer to allow me to sync everything up with my Blackberry.
So in trying economic times when traveling business people may be cutting back on things that aren’t completely necessary—like expensive hotel internet or wireless broadband—allowing users to download their calendars to a desktop is a smart feature to have.
A USA Today story last month reported that more consumers are cutting out small luxuries in the current economic climate:
“There’s a sense that prices are rising—and will continue to rise—but wages will not,” says Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board. “This is squeezing household budgets whether they’re $200 per week or $200,000 per year. Folks are looking closely at anything they don’t have to purchase now.”
It’s not a stretch to assume this is happening in the business world as well. I can personally attest to tightening the belt on small, somewhat unnecessary business expenditures when times look tough—and Google adding offline features for its calendar app makes it a more and more viable substitute for paid calendar software.
Even though Offline Google Calendar users Gears, you don’t have to be a developer to take advantage of the offline sync. All you have to do is log in to your Google Calendar account and direct your mouse to this handy link in the upper right-hand corner:
As someone who does a fair amount of traveling for business, I can tell you that this is a feature I’ll definitely use closer to conferences. The ability to put this onto my laptop and take with me offline without having to print something out on wasted paper or rely solely on my mobile phone is comforting.
I don’t always have great luck with being able to connect to the internet in hotels and conference centers, so having a back up offline will help me focus on the more important tasks at hand attending conferences and other events. I’m the kind of person who puts every appointment and session I want to attend at a conference on my calendar, so not having to stress about whether or not the sync to my phone will work or if my computer will be able to use the nearby wi-fi will be a relief.
If you’re not using Google Calendar yet, you might want to try it. I love Google Calendar both for its convenience with business appointments and the mobile synchronization, as well as sharing calendars amongst friends and family to help facilitate getting together socially. It’s much easier to decide on what day is best for a dinner date with friends when you can see what they’re up to and avoid lengthy email threads or endless rounds of phone tag.
Business people have been using software applications like Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail for years to do what Google Calendar does better—and for free. So if you’re not using it, really, you should get up to the cloud and look around.
Trisha Lyn Fawver manages affiliate programs, blogs, and explores the world of social media, all at TrishaLyn.com.