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Google offers offline Gmail, Calendar, Docs


There you are in a train station or on a plane, and you're trying to get to you Google Gmail, Calendar or Docs on your laptop and you can't: No Internet connection to the Web-based apps. If you use Google's Chrome Web browser, you're in luck: Gmail is now available for checking offline, and in the next week, Calendar and Docs will be too.

The offering, called Gmail Offline, is a Chrome Web Store app that you'll need to download to use. And, you also need to be using Google's Chrome Web browser on your laptop to take advantage of the offline offering, at least for now. Like most of Google's other apps, Gmail Offline is free.

Here's what product manager Benoît de Boursetty wrote on a Google blog about the Gmail Offline: 

This HTML5-powered app is based on the Gmail web app for tablets, which was built to function with or without web access. After you install the Gmail Offline app from the Chrome Web Store, you can continue using Gmail when you lose your connection by clicking the Gmail Offline icon on Chrome’s “new tab” page.

Google Calendar and Google Docs let you seamlessly transition between on- and offline modes. When you’re offline in Google Calendar, you can view events from your calendars and RSVP to appointments. With Google Docs you can view documents and spreadsheets when you don’t have a connection. Offline editing isn’t ready yet, but we know it’s important to many of you, and we’re working hard to make it a reality.

So, while you can't edit documents or change your calendar offline, you can at least view them.

CNET's Stephen Shankland noted that offline access to Google apps "is critical to the success of Chromebooks," the bare-bones laptops that run on Google's Web-based Chrome operating system. Acer and Samsung now make Chromebooks, which range from $300 to $500.

"Without offline productivity apps, Chromebooks' utility drops significantly for those who plan to use it as more than a machine that stays put in an office or school," he wrote.

The timing of Gmail Offline may be a little off for selling more Chromebooks, with most students and parents done with buying back-to-school laptops. But, hey — the holidays are ahead.

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