Offline Support Comes to the New Gmail

Posted on May 16, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 12 Comments

Offline Support Comes to the New Gmail

Google announced its new Gmail web app back in late April, and this week it picked up native offline support, thanks to its use of Progressive Web App (PWA) technologies.

“[You can] read, respond to, and search your Gmail messages even when you aren’t connected to the Internet,” a Gmail Help document explains.

This new functionality, which I found out about thanks to 9to5Google—I don’t believe there’s an official announcement—marks the first time that Gmail has natively support offline usage. But it’s not the first time that Google has enabled this feature: A special Gmail Offline web app for Chrome was available previously, and Gmail users could also enable offline support via a browser extension.

Offline support in the new Gmail is currently available only in Chrome. To enable it, make sure you’re using the new Gmail. Then, open Gmail settings and check the option “Enable offline mail.” From there, you can configure other related settings, including the number of days of messages you would like to sync. Messages sent while offline will be stored in a new Outbox folder until you’re online again.

Google also recommends that you load Gmail before your PC goes offline.

 

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Comments (12)

12 responses to “Offline Support Comes to the New Gmail”

  1. Avatar

    RM

    Yet another Google look in to make sure people use Chrome! I would like to know why another browser would not work. Are they braking from PWA standards or just none of the browsers are as fully featured for PWA yet? I hope it is the later otherwise Google is just going to do that to all of their PWAs.

    • Avatar

      NazmusLabs

      In reply to RM:

      It's Google's subtler version of the IE6 disaster. That's why I prefer to use Gecko and EdgeHTML. If blink takes over the browser market, it could a disaster.


      It's why I don't consider the likes of Opera a real alternative browsers. They are just chrome with a different skin.


      Safari, Firefox, and Edge are the real alternative browsers left that's still in active development.


      Things like Vivaldi or Opera are not actual alternatives and actually helps Chrome's dominance.

      • Avatar

        Bill Russell

        In reply to NazmusLabs:

        PWA is standard and dependant on the OS and browser to implement. For example iOS did/does not support PWA but is supposedly adding it. Is that Google's fault if Apple doesn't implement it, or not fully enough to support offline gmail? Google is the one that really tries to get everyone on board with open standards and gmail will work when the makers support it. If your invention becomes standardized, well then guess what, you have it working first.

        I would never support a proprietary browser engine, even if its just adding to the competition for now. If MS ever gained the popularity *that* definitely would be another IE disaster since MS business model is all about tying applications to their own platforms to sell said platforms directly for profit, even if the developers have the best intentions to be standard, with an incentive toward lock in and non standard extensions. Google has an incentive to be a good steward of the internet and they have proven that so far.

    • Avatar

      curtisspendlove

      In reply to RM:

      I would expect they are using a different implementation of the Offline Storage APIs. All the old (current) APIs enforce pitifully small offline storage quotas. I’m guessing it is locked down due to this. I expect in time, as other browsers catch p to Chrome it will be available on them as well.


      This is the future of PWAs. They aren’t magic, the browser vendors have to agree to and then conform to agreed upon standards.

  2. Avatar

    Stooks

    "A special Gmail Offline web app for Chrome"


    I have used this "web app" for years for offline Gmail. When I read that blog title I was like "they have had this for years".


    Not sure people are going to really distinguish "web app" vs "PWA" because they are honestly the same in the end. Being stuck to Chrome kind of kills the PWA aspect of it.

  3. Avatar

    VancouverNinja

    Why do you guys use gmail? I recently compared outlook vs gmail web versions and Outlook seemed to be a better solution. What am I missing?

  4. Avatar

    Waethorn

    I'm not sure what people don't understand about this stuff: PWA's are not universal. PWA's use platform and browser-specific functions. Just because a web app developer wants to use some special feature of the browser or native feature of an OS doesn't mean it's going to work with every browser. Chrome is Google's primary platform. If Microsoft made a PWA and released it through the Windows Store as a compiled web page, you wouldn't be complaining, would you?

    • Avatar

      curtisspendlove

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Heh. I have to agree. And I’m sorry but this article just makes me laugh.


      Offline Storage has been a browser API for a long, long time. Hell, like iOS 5.1 supported it. And I have no idea which Safari version that was.


      Now I will grant that the whole marketing push for PWAs over the past few years has accelerated the platform capabilities. The good news is that they seem to be pushing the previously absurdly small storage limits up, at least.

  5. Avatar

    skane2600

    I think "respond" in this context is misleading. It should be offline "composing".


    "Why didn't you respond to my email?"

    "I did respond using gmail's new offline mode"

    "I never received it"

    "I guess it's not working right"

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