If there’s been one thing that has held many of us back from being perfectly happy to live in the cloud it is the fact that sometimes you just don’t have an Internet connection so your cloud becomes all but useless. Google is no stranger to this fact and has apparently been hard at work to make the transition a bit easier.
Today, Google is announcing a new Chrome Web app that will allow you to use Gmail offline. It’s an HTML-5 application, based on the Gmail for Tablets web app and it looks killer:
It seems that the app updates in real-time (or very near so) in the background while you’re working online. If you lose your connection, just pop open a new tab and hit the Gmail Offline icon. From there you can continue to read, compose, organize and archive email and all of your changes will synchronize when you’re online once again.
If you’ve been longing for Docs and Calendar in offline mode, you’ll likely have to wait a few days, but there’s good news here, too. Or, at least in part.
You’ll be able to view events and RSVP to appointments in Google Calendar. However, you can’t edit just yet. The same holds true for Google Docs, but the team promises that “we’re working hard to make it a reality”. Better yet, there’s no other application required for offline Docs or Calendar. All it takes is a press of the gear in your bar at the top of the page and you can switch to Offline Access.
As for forward-looking features, Google says that we’ll eventually be able to customize the amount of mail that is synchronized, as well as the ability to do all of this in other browsers. For now, the features are for Chrome only, as it is the browser that handles background pages, but Google appears to be hopeful that other browsers will pick up the necessary abilities soon.
In all, it’s a huge, welcome change for users of Google apps. You should be able to download the Gmail Offline app now and the roll-out of the Docs and Calendar function is slated to happen for everyone in the coming week.