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