A peek at the source code behind Google Docs by a third-party blog site offers a tantalizing hint of some features that may be around the corner.
The Web site Google Operating System (no relation to Google itself) revealed yesterday that it dug into the source code of Google Docs to find a message that said simply: "Coming soon: Third party applications, cloud printers, and sync devices."
Cloud printing, which lets you print to any local or shared printer without the need for a print driver, is a feature that Google has teased for awhile. The company has been developing its own Google Cloud print service that would allow Chrome OS users to print documents that are managed on Google's end and then sent back to a physical printer. Beyond printing to any printer, users could share their own printers with other people around the world, similar to the way they now can share a document itself.
The first Chrome OS devices could hit the market later this month and in December, just in time for the holiday season and potentially paving the way for Google's new cloud printing service.
The "sync devices" feature likely refers to the ability to synchronize Google Docs files with the desktop as well as with mobile devices. That capability is currently missing in the free basic edition of the software but is available to some degree in the subscription-based Google Apps product and in various third-party utilities. And "third-party applications" might be a tip-off that Google will allow Docs to tap into other other types of software to provide added functionality beyond creating basic documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.
These are features that Google has already brought to light, so it does appear to be a case of when, not if, they'll see the light of day. In response to a query about the new features, a Google spokeswoman e-mailed CNET the following statement:
"Each of the features you mentioned have been announced before but we are excited to see everyone's enthusiasm for the cloud and integration with Google Docs. Third-party app integration framework was presented at Google I/O in May. At that time, we also mentioned that third parties may potentially build sync clients like Memeo Connect using the Documents List Data API and Sites Data API. We announced Google Cloud Print last April and you can read more about the project on the Google Code page. We have no specifics on timing for these features at this point."