For years now we've dreamed of making technology entirely portable. Unfortunately, our inevitable dependence on feature-full software and systems locks us down and ties us into the world of desktops, laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots. Google today, announced an add-on service for its suite of cloud based 'Google docs' software, being popularised on its Chrome OS based Chromebooks. Here, we look at whether going portable is truly possible, and what are the potential repercussions?

By Zafar Jamati

Traditionally, if you wanted productivity, you had to stick to a full-feature operating system (OS), such as Windows or Mac OS X. In recent years, the rise of mobile and tablet devices has encouraged the creation of portable apps to aid the production of documents.

Although the apps offer a convenient way of producing short documents, it is simply not viable to use a touch screen or mobile keyboard to produce a report, work on a spreadsheet or write a novel.

Netbooks were popularised as a solution to this problem, but their limited hardware struggled to cope with the heavy memory footprint of a full feature and full-size OS. Alternatives have been available for a while now. For example, Windows 8 is lightweight and can run on tablets and hybrid touch screen laptops such as the Surface Pro.

Google's Chrome OS has been available on its range of Chromebook laptops for two years now. As an optimised piece of software, Chrome OS strips away memory based applications in favour of cloud based processing and storage. The Chromebook itself acts as a thin client, meaning that it can be small and lightweight, but still retain the cloud based processing power of a mainframe server.

However, cloud based devices have so far struggled to really take off due to the often true perception that devices require an 'always-on' connection to the Internet. Google's approach of using a mixture of offline and online functionality means that users can work offline when out of signal, automatically and seamlessly syncing when the user roams into signal range.

The rise of cloud computing, along with infrastructure improvements such as faster and wider mobile broadband access - like 4G - has started to alleviate traditionalists' concerns.

Recently, true portability has taken a step closer to becoming a reality, with the announcement of add-ons for Google docs. An open source service similar to Chrome's browser extensions, the add-ons will allow more sophisticated full-feature functionality, which has traditionally been the forte of desktop programmes such as Microsoft office.

So, could you become truly portable? Are you in a 4G connected area, and would you still be productive whilst out and about? Let us know in the comments section below.

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