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Google Launches Offline Apps

Last night, I installed the new Offline Mail app for Chrome that Google released in beta just this week. It’s designed to provide offline access to Gmail so I can read, reply, organize and search my Gmailbox without network access.

So let’s say I’m at an airport or hotel with spotty internet access. Now when I lose my connection, I can click on the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome’s “new tab” page and I can still do all these necessary things regardless of my connection.

Rajen Sheth, Google’s group product manager, says that the HTML5-powered app will sync mail whenever a connection to the internet is established, even if the tab isn’t open in your browser. This was a big goal for the Gmail team.

I find the interface is similar enough to gmail to be intuitive. Unfortnunately right now, it’s only available in Chrome.

Along with Gmail, Google is also launching offline apps for Calendar and Docs — creating offline access for their three most popular apps. Calendar and Docs will transition between on and offline modes. When I am offline in Calendar, I can view events and RSVP to appointments. In Docs, I can view documents and spreadsheets but will not be able to edit. The key here is how to sync up any edits made offline by ones made by other people the documents have been shared with, online… kinda like Dropbox.

I’m loving the possibility of having the best of both worlds — the ease of having all my essential material and communications accessible from any computer as well having access on my laptop when the virtual door is closed.

Gmail was released yesterday and as I put the finishing touches on this post, a window popped up on my browser…

So obviously offline Calendar is now available and I imagine Docs is soon to follow, supposedly rolling out over the next week. Do you use these apps? Will offline access influence your usage?

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