Google Adds Offline Gmail Support

For any of the naysayers out there still harshing on Gmail for its lack of Offline support, get a load of this. As of this week, Google is at long last rolling out a feature to US and UK English users that it has been testing internally for quite some time, and for those who live somewhere between an airport terminal, taxi cab and an uncomfortable middle seat on a 757, you're in luck.

Offline Gmail is real, and we're really loving the sound of it. Granted, Google is still christening the feature an "experimental" one for now, but are you really surprised? After all, Gmail itself is still stickered as "Beta." At any rate, the service works just about like you'd expect, though the complexities behind the scenes are what makes this implementation great. Once the feature is activated in your account, you can simply visit while no active connection is present and "get to your mail just like you're used to."

Here's a little rundown on how everything works. Once Offline Gmail is flipped on, the service uses the 'Gears' application (also from Google) to download a local cache of your mail onto your machine's hard drive. So long as you stay connected, that cache is synchronized with Gmail's servers. Now, once you disconnect (intentionally or otherwise), Gmail intelligently switches to Offline mode and immediately begins to use the locally stored cache data. Not only does this enable you to continue managing your email (Starring, Labeling, reading and deleting functions all remain in tact), but it prevents any partially written notes from being forever lost due to a spotty connection. If you pen a message while offline, Gmail simply houses it in your outbox and sends it just as soon as a connection is restored.

Also of note, Google even thought to include a "flaky connection mode," which still relies on local cache data but attempts to synchronizes your mail with the server in the background. The overriding goal was to "provide nearly the same browser-based Gmail experience whether you're using the data cached on your computer or talking directly to the server."

Google will be rolling the service out to the aforementioned groups over the next little while, so not everyone will see the option to enable it right away. Keep an eye on your 'Settings' tab, though -- it should pop up soon. Below is a video to show you just how everything will work once it rolls to your inbox.

Tags:  Google, Gmail, Email, Offline