Gmail gears up for offline Web access

In Thursday's IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches Google add offline capability to its Gmail webmail service. Not to mention Robot Chicken's Wrath Of Khan - The Opera...

Sharon Gaudin puns it up:

Gmail logo
An updated version of Gmail ... loads in a browser even when the user doesn't have an Internet connection ... will give flight to users who have been wanting to get some work done while on a plane, for instance.

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The new system uses the Google Gears browser extension, which has also been used to offline-enable Google Docs and Google Reader.
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Erick Schonfeld:

Until today, one of the biggest drawbacks of Gmail is that you could not go through your emails when you were offline. Today, that changes.

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After installing the Google Gears plug-in to your browser, Gmail detects when you are offline. It caches your e-mail so that you can read it, respond to it, search it, star it, or label it. When you are connected to the Internet again, it sends all the messages. You can even open attachments. This is exactly the way Gmail already works on mobile phones such as the Android and those that support Gears.
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Scott Gilbertson:

Of course, using an e-mail client with an IMAP connection, many people have long enjoyed offline access to their Gmail accounts. But for those of you that want offline access, and the web-based interface, the new Offline mode is what you've been dreaming about.

The much-requested offline feature, which allows you to read, star, label, archive and compose new mail even when you don't have an internet connection, will be coming to all Gmail accounts over the next few days ... To get Offline mode set up, click Settings and then click the Labs tab ... If you don't see it just yet be patient.
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Harry McCracken yells, "Finally!":

Gears is an exciting piece of technology, but it seems safe to say that it doesn’t make building offline apps into a cakewalk: It was introduced back in May, 2007 and there are still only a handful of services (from Google or anyone else) that take advantage of it. At first, I assumed the launch of Gears meant offline Gmail was imminent; then I forgot it might even be a possibility. And now I’m pleased to see that it’s been in the works all along.

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I think it’s possible that Internet access will get close to pervasive before offline access can be assumed. Once you can get on the Net from an airplane or the boonies, you might only care about offline access for those rare moments when your connection (or Gmail itself) has temporarily conked out.
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So does Anthony Ha:

Jeez, I’ve been waiting a while for this one. And so have many others. Even though Gmail adoption has been strong to date, it’s had to play catch up to other popular online-only email services ... In part, it’s growth has been hampered by its inability to work offline.

This move essentially takes the shackles off Gmail, giving it the flexibility to match Microsoft ... The big difference: Gmail is free. This is actually a major attack on Microsoft, because it wipes away one of the biggest technical deficiencies remaining in Gmail..
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Kevin C. Tofel has it:

Gmail will intelligently switch to offline mode by itself whenever it realizes there’s no connection ... The creation of your local mail store could take a while and is dependent on how much mail you actually have in Gmail. I’ve been using Gmail for a few years, so I was worried that 5GB of mail was about to float down. However, the default setting is for e-mail six months old or less.
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And finally...

Buffer overflow:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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