Google is testing a Drive feature that will allow users to make any file type, and not just Docs, Sheets and Slides files, available offline from Chrome. It’s currently available only to G Suite customers, but will come to consumers with Gmail accounts in the near future.
“Today, users can use Chrome to make Docs, Sheets and Slides files available offline.” Google explains on the beta sign-up site. “This beta feature lets users mark PDFs, images, Microsoft Office files, [and more] (collectively referred to as ‘binary content’) available offline using Google Drive File Stream. It helps users who are traveling or have unreliable data networks to access important content.”
Google offers a Backup and Sync client for Windows and Mac that lets users access their cloud-based files, including Google Photos, in File Explorer (or Finder), similar to how OneDrive works. But for business users on G Suite, Google is now offering a separate Drive File Stream client that works like OneDrive Files On Demand. Google describes it as “a way to access all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your Mac or PC, without using up all of your disk space.” As with the Backup and Sync client, Drive File Stream lets users make Drive files available for offline access.
The new beta extends this functionality to the Chrome web browser. Today, users can access Google Docs, Sheets and Slides files in Chrome while offline. So, the new beta functionality that Google is testing will extend the offline capabilities to any file type. This is good for Chrome users, of course, but particularly good for those on Chrome OS.
“This feature helps complete the offline experience for Google Drive,” Google notes. “Now, users can access their important non-Google files in an offline setting, like when they’re traveling or when there’s poor internet connectivity.”