The Etelos Application Framework today launched a key new feature: the ability for applications there to run offline and sync when connectivity is available. The company requires zero code changes to be made in order for apps to go offline.

From apps developed natively for the Etelos marketplace to enterprise installs of Google Apps, MediaWiki and WordPress - the company expects a wide range of apps to make use of the offline functionality.

From Google Gears to (in theory) Firefox 3 to the mysterious Yahoo BrowserPlus project - a lot of people are clearly trying to make apps usable offline. We've debated the soundness of that trend here at RWW, but we do love us some desktop RSS reading, too.

The Etelos offering is just the latest from a company that offers primarily enterprise app developers a wide range of services. The idea behind Etelos is that the company takes care of everything from billing to customer management, allowing developers to make and sell great apps. Now those apps will be able to live offline, one more good reason to offer apps through the platform.

App account administrators (on the customer side) will be able to set varying permission levels to determine which users can access what information for syncing offline.

For the immediate future, at least, when in-flight wifi still seems a ways off and connectivity in general isn't what it ought to be - this sounds like a good idea. Offline access and later syncing is something that sounds uninspiring in theory but is very exciting when you're using it. Google Gears offers another level of emotional experience when you get to feel disappointment over the shaky quality of syncing once back online. There's certainly room for competition in the world of offline access to web apps.