Google has released a new version of Gmail that operates without an internet connection, and it plans to offer similar offline versions of Google Docs and Google Calendar over the coming week. But these tools will only work in tandem with Google's own Chrome browser. The company had promised offline versions of its Google Apps …
This could make ChromeOS (a little) more interesting
Being, pretty much, a brick without a current Internet connection was a wee bit of a problem.
Of course, if someone took ChromeOS and made it into something that could be managed inside of an organization (vs. having to be managed via the Google Cloud)... that would really be something in my book
Good idea, not in keeping with the original idea
Chrome OS PCs were supposed to be like dumb terminals which people could switch between and not notice any difference in their "installed" apps or configuration preferences. In practice it might be rare that people use the machines in that way but even so, having emails stored on a machine doesn't quite fit the ethos.
Not so sure I agree... I don't think they would have even considered developing ChromeOS if they hadn't somewhat proved the offline web concept with Google Gears and were expecting similar functionality to be rolled out in HTML5. Also, NaCL (or whatever the heck they call that) goes against the browser (which is all the user sees after all in ChromeOS) as being a complete dumb terminal.
To your point, the ChromeOS machines were really little more than dumb terminals when they rolled out, but I don't think it was the intent of the design and architecture to be completely useless when not connected.
As I understand it, Nothing here really breaks the model/architecture... everything is still synched to "the cloud", whatever local info that is stored on the machine is just cache, and the device is still, at heart, stateless. If you drop your ChromeOS Netbook in the lake (or it gets stolen, etc) at most all you lose - data wise - is whatever you had worked on since the last time you were online.
I can almost say that about my cellphone (no way to sync my txts/pics/videos/apps/etc to Exchange - but contacts, mail, and calendar no problem) but I definitely can't say that about my laptop... which to me, is the real, intended point of ChromeOS.
Just my $0.02... FWIW :)
What's the added value to this case of NIH?
Someone please explain what this can do that your basic IMAP/POP-enabled MUA can't do?
Similarly I have trouble envisioning the added use of making something like their "apps" all cloud-y (and heavily cookie cutter-y) and then provide an "offline" version. How is that different from taking a local version and backing its store with, say, a file sync trick* to a bit of cloud store like, oh, gmailfs or something less hackish but still google-y?
I might be suffering a case of techie vision impairment and compeltely fail to see something that's obvious to someone from board room word salad land here, so someone please explain. What's the added value here? The killer app? Anyone?
* rsync, coda, any of a bunch of others, take your pick
Cloud based office apps allow much better control, collaboration and sharing than you can get by storing backup copies of documents on networks. Control who can edit, control who can view, rollback to earlier versions, everyone has the latest version automatically, 2 or more people can edit at the same time...
It's called "using a real email client".
Seriously, why the hell do people still use webmail?
Google - department of redundancy department.
Why web mail ?
The answer to that is that they can access their email from anywhere in the world without having to lug their desktop machine around with them.
Using "a real email client" sucks the email into the machine running it. If this is sometimes their desktop, other times their laptop, and occasionally their phone then they have to sync these or lose some.
Webmail is awesome
Why do people still use email clients? The functionality in Gmail's web version is excellent. This will make email and calendar clients redundant, not the other way round.
Re: Richard Plinston
IMAP much? All emails are stored on the server, so you can use a dedicated email client on several machines and still keep in sync.
IMAP vs Web
So the difference is that you can do this from anywhere that can access your IMAP server (which may or may not be limited to your local network). While Web Mail can do it from anywhere.
Then there is the difference that you are using program A (which may or may not be available on random machine X, such as a internet cafe machine) while web mail users have program B (which probably will be available).
I´ve not used a thick-client email in nearly a year. Even then, it was for my Gmail accounts and one business account. I use Gmail in a browser and on Galaxy S. As someone else has said, the functionality in Gmail is ideal for most people. As soon as I send a message, it is sync´d to my G S. Ditto drafts etc. It is not always ideal, but I´m pretty chilled about it.
I used to be obsessive about my email and would have Outlook PST backups galore. I used Thunderbird for a while, but got fed up with its "quirks".
So, whilst it might be your cup of tea, there´s a lot of us who are quite happy this way.
Each to their own, eh?
I think you're right that webmail is 'good enough' for most people. Time was when webmail clients were so clunky and slow that a native email client was the only way to go even if you wanted to do the most rudimentary tasks.
A native client is still the tool of choice for email 'power users' though. When you're dealing with hundreds of emails, the slightly more responsive native client will get you through it a bit quicker. Things like macros don't hurt either.
It's the same with most of these cloud tools. Online picture editing is good enough for most people's fuzzy JPEGs which don't take long to upload and all they want to do is some red-eye correction so they can post evidence of just-how-wasted-they-were-last-night on Facebook. But it won't ever replace someone whose job requires a DSLR and RAW images trying to do some heavy-duty rendering. Likewise, good luck getting someone with a huge Excel sheet chock-full of custom VBA macros to migrate to Google Docs.
Netscape wanted to do this
They were foolish enough to discuss this and when MS heard about it BillG panicked and got Spyglass to write them a browser that was different enough so that it wouldn't run Netscape's stuff.
By giving away IE, making it compulsory, and paying their OEMs (via a 'discount') not to install Netscape they killed off the threat to their monopoly.
This held back computing for a decade and more. Now we are going to rerun the 90s as they should have been.
Yes, this looks like a proprietary IMAP, probably with some improvements over the standard protocol. Remember Microsoft's Embrace and Extend? Remember Exchange Server?
Could Be Evil
There are mechanisms in HTML 5 for local storage and offline web applications. If the solution is Chrome-only, then either Google is adding more complete support for these HTML 5 functions than any other browser, or they are adding non-standards functionality into their browsers. If it's the latter, then this, along with Chrome native code, is a troubling trend.
Chrome still runs standards-based websites as they are intended to be run. IE didn't.
IMAP + multiple machines = headache
I actually used to use IMAP the way people are suggesting, and eventually abandoned it in favor of web mail for three reasons:
- Synchronization headaches: mail left on the server would sometimes be regarded as new by one client even though another had read it, and folder "subscriptions" had to be synced between clients manually.
- IMAP provides access to download mail but not to send it. I had frequent problems with firewalls blocking IMAP, SMTP, or both, especially at hotels. Hotel systems transparently intercepting SMTP submissions to send them to their own servers, breaking authenticated sending, was a particular problem.
- I make extensive use of email rules to sort email into folders. Having to duplicate these manually on every IMAP client was a total hassle.
IMAP > Web Mail, but why not both?
IMAP supports push via IDLE, great for devices (k9 mail is superb with IMAP). Not sure why some clients showed read mail as unread, sounds like a broken client (Outlook I'm looking at you and your suspiciously diabolical IMAP support).
My mail server offers webmail, IMAP(s), POP(s), Webmail, Caldav/ical, server side mail rules and an open source implementation of ActiveSync. And it's free. Thanks Zarafa.
What's next--offline word processing? What a brave new world....
Remember "embrace, extend, extinguish?"
We've made it to step 2... the community better hold Google to their promise of opening this stuff up or things will start to suck big time.
Email without internet is like a car without a engine
a Email client without internet is like a car without engine. Or maybe we should invent a offline we browser so you can browser the internet without a connection.
I mean, seriously, who want's to send a email to somebody who cannot receive it because you don't have a connection?!?!
Re: Email without internet is like a car without a engine
Some scenarios why you would want offline e-mail handling :
- Waiting in some client's offices for the client to show up 45 minutes late, without public WiFi access
- Taking medium or long haul flights
- Taking the train to go to some other city more than 50 km away
When you are done answering all your mails (if that is even possible, but that is a different question entirely), you just sent them out when you are in a place with an Internet access.
And these are just the most obvious scenarios. If you do not have some need, (a lot of) other people might (well I do in any case, and so do about 30 colleagues with the same travel schedules)
"When you are done answering all your mails"
You're still going to need a connection to download all of the emails you want to read / answer.
Anyway, this is all well and good, but haven't smartphones and tablets been doing this for years? I know mine have.
Google = the new Microsoft
Where 'open' is closed and 'standard' is proprietary. And yet look at all the fucking retards here lapping it up. Sickening.
Sounds like you need to have a beer and relax mate. It really isn´t that important.
Webmail is mostly useless to me
Because it doesn't work everywhere.
Yahoo Mail, GMail, Apple web mail, etc are all blocked at just about every company I've ever worked for.
Gmail itself is a deeply unpleasant thing to use anyway. Yahoo mail is nicer.
Embrace and Extend
"We needed a combination of advanced HMTL5 capabilities...as well as ways to address use cases not yet covered by existing standards,"
Offline GMail USED to work
But this is crap, I just tried it.
It looks a bit like a tablet/phone UI but it's on my nice powerful keyboard-and-touchpad driven laptop. What's the point in that? Even on a "chromebook" it'll look chunky and stupid.
GMail used to have an offline mode that worked nicely - I could chose what labels to sync and how much local storage to use. It seamlessly snapped back into online mode when I got a connection so I could just leave it open all the time and not worry about it.
Since they canned that I've been pointing Thunderbird at GMail's IMAP interface - that works fine but it's less good than it used to be. I'd been looking forward to the promised HTML5 offline mode, so this offering is rather disappointing. Booo!
"Old" Offline Gmail still there
The "old" offline Gmail still works in IE with Google Gears installed - but many browsers are not supported, including Chrome.
Quite surprised this article and all comments so far have failed to mention a disturbing similarity here to IE and ActiveX plug-ins.
OK, so apparently Google hope these standards are introduced in other browsers at a later date, not something I'm aware that Microsoft proposed, but whichever way you looking at it they're bolting in their own additional, non-standard mechanisms into their browser and then expecting everyone else to follow suit.
With the immense popularity of GMail and the increasing popularity of Chrome, isn't this exactly the kind of insidious use of market share that Microsoft were derided for?
Whilst I appreciate that sometimes the industry does need a good kick up the arse from time to time, I'd still rather see all these standards ironed out before having to put up with yet another wave of browser fragmentation.
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