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Google adds offline mode for Gmail

Google adds offline mode for Gmail

Gmail will shortly be accessible even without a 'net connection, thanks to Google's efforts with its Gears software.

Google aren't letting the current economic climate get in the way of introducing neat new features in their services, and have announced a new 'offline' mode for the popular Gmail web-based e-mail system.

Announced on the Gmail Blog on Tuesday – and spotted via TechMeMe – the feature, which is described as “experimental”, uses Google Gears to allow certain functionality within the Gmail website even without a working Internet connection.

Currently being rolled out to a select number of Gmail users – but with that number increasing all the time, and a full UK- and US -wide rollout due over the next couple of days – the only requirement to make use of the new offline mode is a supported browser running a copy of Google Gears. When you're set up, you'll enjoy the ability to access messages from a local cache – updated each time you've got a working 'net connection – and use all the labelling and 'starring' features present in the web-based client. If you create and send a message, it will get added to a queue and sent the next time you're online.

In addition to the pure offline mode, the team has added a 'flaky connection' mode for when you're having one or two difficulties staying online: Gmail engineer Andy Palay describes the mode as “somewhere in between” the online and offline modes, as it “uses the local cache as if you were disconnected, but still synchronizes your mail with the server in the background” to offer the best of both worlds.

If you want to give the new mode a whirl – and assuming your account has been enabled – you'll find the option in the 'Labs' tab under 'Offline Gmail.' While the feature is described as an “early experimental version” with “some kinks that haven't been completely ironed out yet”, Palay claims that the team has been running the code “internally at Google for quite a while” without any serious issues.

Will Cloud Computing only take off when it has offline functionality like Google is striving to add, or is the ability to use web-based systems without a 'net connection merely a nice feature rather than a must-have? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

9 Comments

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naokaji 29th January 2009, 10:45 Quote
Quote:
In addition to the pure offline mode, the team has added a 'flaky connection' mode for when you're having one or two difficulties staying online:

In other words, now you can even send emails when virgin is "throttling" you by forcing 10k+ pings on you.
Hooray for google;)
Paradigm Shifter 29th January 2009, 10:59 Quote
Forgive me if I'm being really, really daft... but "Offline Mode"... isn't that basically boiling down to the same thing as Gmail with POP3 access using Thunderbird?
Gareth Halfacree 29th January 2009, 11:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm Shifter
Forgive me if I'm being really, really daft... but "Offline Mode"... isn't that basically boiling down to the same thing as Gmail with POP3 access using Thunderbird?
Kinda-sorta - except it's done entirely within the web browser (well, the web browser with the Gears plugin to be precise) and requires no additional software.
markwalker84 29th January 2009, 12:00 Quote
Familiarity...

Joe Bloggs may nt want to use multiple programs to access email. If it all just "works" for him then he will be much happier and far less confused i would imagine.
wuyanxu 29th January 2009, 12:32 Quote
instead of POP3, would this work like IMAP?? where it's synced instead of just downloading the messages??
perplekks45 29th January 2009, 13:44 Quote
It should be more like IMAP than POP3 as far as I understand it. Now if only I could properly get mail forwarded to my Gmail account from my crappy German mail account. Server unreachable 9/10 times...
phuzz 29th January 2009, 14:21 Quote
meh, still not got the option on mine :(
devdevil85 29th January 2009, 18:02 Quote
meh...I'm always online...
War-Rasta 29th January 2009, 19:09 Quote
I don't think I'll be using this as I'm always online when in front of a PC, but if they could somehow get this on the app that they have for mobile phones it would definitely be something for me.
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