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How ‘Offline’ Web Apps Will Work on Google Chromebooks

Google’s new laptops will handle times without 3G service or WiFi access with features standard in HTML5 but not supported by all browsers

Some of Google’s new Chromebooks will have 3G connectivity, but it will be paltry – 100mb a month. Some won’t even have that, and will be WiFi only. So how are you going to use Gmail and Google Docs when you’re not in range of a hotspot, or you’re 35,000 feet in the air, racing to finish something for work?

To some extent, HTML5 has you covered. Versions of Google Mail and Google Docs that will come out in June will be able to access two elements standard in the HTML5 specification.

The first is a local, browser-specific cache for the data a web app uses. The second is a cache for a web app’s executable code. Together, these two things are everything an offline web app could possibly need.

The only hitch is that, according to former Google engineer Brian Kennish, the Javascript and HTML5 Application Programming Interfaces required to make web apps work offline aren’t supported on all web browsers yet. Google controls Chrome, so Google can make offline web apps work on its Chromebooks as soon as they launch.

Here’s a video of Google’s Vic Gundotra showing how offline storage of web apps and data allow access to Google mail on an iPhone, even when it’s not connected to the network.

Of course, none of this addresses how well Google’s apps will work offline. Or, for that matter, why everyone’s so excited to download apps from the web that can only work in the browser, when we can already download apps to devices that aren’t as dependent on the network as the Chromebook.

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Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
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I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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