After months of delay, Google today announced that you can now use Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar even when you’re offline.
This functionality used to be fueled by Googl Gears, which Google stopped after it released Chrome 12 this past May, indirectly removing the useful feature in Gmail that was first introduced in 2009 – and was a key feature of Gears. It was odd that Google removed the offline extension from its own browser so hastily, without first releasing any alternatives, while other web browsers remain unaffected.
However, Google promised to bring back the offline capability in summer — which will be powered by HTML5 instead of Gears — and today is the day.
The new offline Gmail is released as a standalone app in Chrome Web Store, instead of a plugin to add offline support to the existing Gmail web app. This means you have to launch the offline app in order to access your Gmail without an Internet connection.
Users of other browsers could use some patience as Google promised to bring the functionality over “when other browsers support advanced functionality.” In other words: date unknown.
The app looks strikingly similar to that of Gmail’s tablet web app. No surprise there because it’s based exactly on that. I appreciate its appearance more than the “Preview Pane” feature in Gmail Labs. It actually has the potential to replace the conventional web interface; it supports most features you’ll need for your daily emailing routine — and doing so will save you the trouble of starting the offline app in a new tab when you lose your connection.
You can now also view Google Docs and Calendar entries and RSVP events offline, but offline editing is still in the pipeline. “Offline editing isn’t ready yet, but we know it’s important to many of you, and we’re working hard to make it a reality,” Google said. We’ll keep you posted.
Source: Gmail Blog