Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Taking Gmail Offline

An experimental new feature makes the Web application feel more like desktop software.
January 28, 2009

Gmail users will soon no longer need an Internet connection to access their in-boxes and write and send messages. Within the next few days, in an ongoing push to bring cloud computing to the masses, Google will introduce a new experimental feature in Gmail Labs called Offline Gmail. This feature synchronizes e-mail from a user’s computer with Google’s servers when she’s online, and still provides the look and feel of Gmail when she’s offline. It relies on Gears, a downloadable piece of software that synchronizes and caches data for Web applications like Google Docs and Calendar.

From Google’s blog post:

Once you turn on this feature, Gmail uses Gears to download a local cache of your mail. As long as you’re connected to the network, that cache is synchronized with Gmail’s servers. When you lose your connection, Gmail automatically switches to offline mode, and uses the data stored on your computer’s hard drive instead of the information sent across the network. You can read messages, star and label them, and do all of the things you’re used to doing while reading your webmail online. Any messages you send while offline will be placed in your outbox and automatically sent the next time Gmail detects a connection. And if you’re on an unreliable or slow connection (like when you’re “borrowing” your neighbor’s wireless), you can choose to use “flaky connection mode,” which is somewhere in between: it uses the local cache as if you were disconnected, but still synchronizes your mail with the server in the background. Our goal is 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.

According to the post, Google employees have been using the feature for quite some time, which isn’t surprising, as most new features get test-driven by Googlers long before they are released to a wider audience. For a glimpse at the future of computing, it’s helpful to look at the habits of Google employees.

Of course, the cloud-computing push isn’t unique to Google. Adobe offers AIR, a platform to turn Web applications into software that feels as if it’s running on a computer’s hard drive. And Microsoft, for its part, is trying to make an operating system that plays well with the cloud.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.