It seems that the experimental Gmail application that is available for US and UK Gmail users has been creating some buzz on the Internet. It basically allows users to use Gmail while they are offline, meaning not connected to the Internet. It makes use of Google Gears and can be activated in the Gmail interface by clicking on Settings and then the Labs section. Once activated a local copy of the mail folders will be stored on the computer which will be accessed whenever there is no Internet connection. The user can access all mails received or send and compose new mails. The changes will be synchronized with Gmail once the Internet connection becomes available again.
Offline Gmail is an interesting option for users who do not want to (or cannot) install a desktop client on their computer. Everyone else is probably better of using desktop clients like Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Outlook or The Bat which provide many advanced features and usage scenarios that web email clients do not offer.
It should also be noted that Google Gears has to be installed on the computer to make use of the offline Gmail extension. Google Gears is currently only available for Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Is the buzz about the new experimental Gmail feature justified? It is highly limited at this point in time and does not come with any features that cannot be achieved otherwise. It might be nice for users who like to use Gmail and do not want the troubles of installing a desktop email client. What's your take on it?
Update: Google Gears has been discontinued. Users of the Chrome web browser have a new option to access their Google mails offline. The Chrome app synchronizes Gmail messages with offline storage so that the emails can be accessed without Internet connection.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.