Google has reintroduced a new system for accessing Gmail, as well as Google Calendar and Docs, when you’re not online.
Obviously that’s pretty handy for those situations when you can’t get online, such as a long haul flight, and you still want to get to the stuff saved in your inbox.
Offline access to Gmail is now available via an HTML5-powered app developed for Google’s Chrome web browser.
You can grab the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome Web Store, and when installed, it places a Gmail Offline icon in Chrome’s new tab page. Clicking on this will allow offline access to your inbox, it’s as simple as that.
Google Docs and Calendar will let users transition between online and offline modes at will by clicking the top right gear icon of the web app, then selecting the ‘offline access’ option.
When offline in Calendar, you’ll be able to view events and RSVP to appointments.
Docs will allow you to view documents and spreadsheets, but unfortunately offline editing isn’t possible yet. This functionality is coming, Google promises, as it realises it’s a pretty crucial part of the word processing recipe.
The company wrote on the official Gmail blog: “We’re pushing the boundaries of modern browsers to make this possible, and while we hope that many users will already find today’s offline functionality useful, this is only the beginning.”
“Support for offline document editing and customizing the amount of email to be synchronized will be coming in the future.”
Google says that browsers other than Chrome will get the Gmail Offline app when they support “advanced functionality like background pages”.
Reintroducing an offline mode has been an important goal for Google, as it strives to make its Chromebooks more attractive. Being unable to get on Google apps without a net connection obviously has been something of a drawback for its new devices.