As promised, Google brought back the offline mode for Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Docs. The updated apps use HTML5 features and no longer require the Gears plugin.
For Gmail, Google chose the easy way out and tweaked the tablet interface. You can only use it in Google Chrome after installing this app from the Chrome Web Store. The app lets you archive and label email, compose new messages and read the messages you’ve received, but it doesn’t have all the features from the standard version. The interface is more suitable for tablets, so this is more like a temporary workaround instead of a definitive solution.
Offline Google Calendar and offline Google Docs aren’t yet available to everyone and will be rolled out in the coming days. Google says that the offline mode is built into the apps, just like the Gears version. “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. To get started using Google Calendar or Google Docs offline, just click the gear icon at the top right corner of the web app and select the option for offline access,” explains Google.
I don’t see the offline settings for Google Calendar and Google Docs in my account, but offline Gmail is disappointing. It only works in Chrome, it has a different URL (https://mail.google.com/mail/mu/), the interface is optimized for iPad and Android tablets and it’s very limited. Hopefully, Google will add support for offline access to the regular interface.