There’s good news for Google buffs. The company has recently launched offline apps for Gmail, Google Docs and Calendar. Though the features are limited right now and work only on Chrome, the company blog says this is just the first step.
“We aim at expanding the capabilities of the overall Web ecosystem to support sophisticated offline apps,” says Vinay Goel, head (products), Google India. The offline apps are aimed at what he calls the “transient states of connectivity”.
Wider Web: Access Gmail offline.
The offline app, called Offline Gmail, is inspired by the offline Gmail version for tablets, and works as a Web page in Google Chrome on PCs. The user interface is email-focused, minus the ads and other paraphernalia.
The features are based on “top feature request from users of Chromebooks”, says Goel. You can read, write, send and organize mail. The interface consists of two windows: One shows your inbox, the other the email content. A button on the bar above leads to “Compose”. You can read, search and archive up to seven days of emails and respond as well as write new ones. A basic drop menu on the left shows your Inbox, starred emails and custom folders. Click on a label and you can access your folder. Once you reconnect to the online world, the app automatically syncs your Gmail account.
It’s a put-off for those used to more elaborate offline email clients such as Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla ThunderBird. Also, there’s no seamless transition from the standard Gmail app to Offline Gmail. They are separate Web apps. So if you are working on regular Gmail when the Internet goes off, you have to open Offline Gmail in a separate tab. And then you can see all that was last worked on—Gmail automatically saves in drafts and you can access drafts on Offline Gmail.
Google Calendar and Docs, however, let you work seamlessly on both the online and offline versions simply by pressing a button on the right side when you get offline. The Offline Docs app just has viewing capability right now for both documents and spreadsheets (not presentations). You can’t edit or write a document; the company is “working on” this. The Calendar app lets you view and RSVP to events and appointments but not create new ones.
Go to Chrome Web Store for the app. Once it’s installed, open a new tab in the browser. You will see a Gmail Offline icon there. Now, you can continue using Gmail when you lose your connection by clicking the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome’s “new tab” page. To use Google Calendar or Google Docs offline, click the gear icon at the top right corner of the Web app and select the option for offline access.
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