Google Introduces Offline Gmail Features, Preparing for Online Storage?

Google has introduced the ability to check your emails offline from Gmail using some smart tricks thanks to Google Gears; coincidence or not, this feature is released just as various rumours about a Google Drive have resurfaced on the web.

The ubiquity of what Google calls "Flaky connections" like wireless broadband means that more often than not, mobile workers are faced with the prospects of having a non-working broadband connection more often than not.

In the backend, a local mirror of your messages is downloaded to your computer so that even when you go offline you will be able to access a few of them; Gmail is able to switch from offline to online mode seamlessly and synchronise the email account with the only distinction being a small icon.

In a long post on the Official Gmail Blog, Andy Palay, a Gmail engineer explains that "You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you're used to doing while reading your webmail online. Any messages you send while offline will be placed in your outbox and automatically sent the next time Gmail detects a connection."

Interestingly, it is quite surprising that Google waited so long to introduce that feature. Open Source Email client Zimbra had it for nearly two years and Google Gears itself has been launched nearly 20 months ago.

Gears had already been enabled for Google Docs, Reader and a number of other third-party web applications including Wordpress. Users of Gmail accounts as well as Business customers for Standard and Premier accounts will be able to use Offline Gmail.

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Our Comments

As for any new Google products, Google Offline Gmail is in heavy beta and is not likely to become Enterprise grade until further down the road. Google has also announced that it will be making offline viewing an optional feature in Calendar for Google Apps customers, which will enable users to see events in Google Calendar wherever they are.

Related Links

Google Makes Gmail Available Offline

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Gmail To Be Available Offline

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No Wifi? No Problem. Gmail Releases New Offline E-mail Tools

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New in Labs : Offline Gmail

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Gmail goes offline

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Gmail goes offline

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Google takes Gmail offline...nearly two years after Zimbra does

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Google knocks Gmail offline, in a good way

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