Sunday, February 1, 2009

No Wifi? No Problem. Gmail Releases New Offline E-mail Tools

Google's popular Gmail will soon be available even when you aren't connected to the internet.  It is called Offline mode, and makes it possible for users to read, star label, archive, and even compose new messages.  Unfortunately you can't send email, but if you click send Gmail will automatically send it as soon as you connect to the internet.  In addition, Goggle's web application Gears even downloads and saves your important emails.  This makes it faster and easier to use Google offline.  It has its own system to figure out which messages are worth saving.  It ignored everything in the trash and spam folders, but automatically saves everything less than a month old and all messages marked as important.  Some do not like their emails being stored, but Google defends that this is a relatively popular practice.  Gmail users have had their privacy issues in the past.  Google automatically scans every email so the advertisements correlate with the subject of the message.  As useful as that is from a marketing standpoint, users argue that it is a breach of privacy.  But even with these privacy issues, Gmail is more popular than ever.  This new feature will definitely increase the popularity of the already popular email service.  This is a feature that no other web-based email service offers, and certainly makes Gmail more attractive to consumers.  None of its competitors have similar features that make it possible to check email while offline.  I believe this new feature will be very helpful for consumers.  For example, it will now be possible to organize and catch up on your emails when you can't connect to the internet.  This will be extremely useful for travelers who can now make use of a long plane or train ride.  There are a few drawbacks to Offline mode though.  While offline, it isn't feasible to attach files to your messages, because that requires a connection to the internet.  It also is impossible to view your contacts while in Offline mode.  However, the few downsides are not that major of an issue when you look at the big picture.  Google has made it possible to view, edit, and organize your emails when not connected to the internet.  This product will help people stay on top of their email accounts and make email more accessible.

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