The Google Operating System blog has uncovered source code that suggests Google Docs is about to get new features.Top among them is cloud printing, which will let you print documents to any Internet-connected printer anywhere in the world. That’s a nice touch for employees on the road or in remote offices.
The source code contains the cryptic line “Coming soon: third party applications, cloud printers, and sync devices.” The update to Docs will probably be timed to the release of the first devices running Google’s Chrome OS, which will show up later this year.
Under Chrome, all apps–including Google Docs–will run as Web apps. The feature updates look like they’re meant to make Chrome + Docs a better replacement for traditional desktop software like Microsoft’s Windows and Office.
The cloud printing service is described on Google’s Web site. For it to work, users will have to install small piece of software on a computer that’s on the same network as (or connected to) the printer. That proxy software will register the printer with the Google Print Cloud service. The downside: the computer has to be turned on and connected to the Internet for the print service to work.
Eventually, the idea is for printer manufacturers make their printers “cloud aware” from the beginning. You’ll simply plug them in, connect them to the Internet, and you’ll be ready to print from anywhere.
The other features signaled by the source code are a little more cryptic. Third-party applications probably describes APIs that could be used for software like image and video editors. Sync devices could describe a feature that will let users take Docs files offline, make changes, then re-sync them to the Docs service when an Internet connection is next available.