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May 24, 2011

No More Offline Gmail in Google Chrome

Chrome 12, the upcoming version of Google's browser which is likely to be released today, removes a useful feature: the built-in Gears plugin. While most Google services dropped support for Gears and removed offline access, Gears is still being used in Gmail. Google no longer maintains Gears, which is now legacy software, and focuses on implementing offline support using HTML5.


But why remove Gears support without implementing the features using HTML5 first? Google says that you'll only need to wait for a few weeks or you can still older versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer and mail client such as Thunderbird or Outlook.

"The new Gmail Offline capability is targeted for delivery as a Chrome browser web app this summer. As we move the Gmail Offline capability to a Chrome web app, we will deprecate the Google Gears-based Gmail Offline. This coincides with the version 12 release of the Google Chrome browser which no longer supports Gears. As a result, Google Gears-based Gmail Offline will no longer work with the Chrome browser as of Tuesday May 24, 2011. Google Gears-based Gmail Offline will continue to work in Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3.6," explains Google.

It's not the best thing to do after convincing users to switch to Chrome and use Web apps, but it's just a temporary issue. If the HTML5 offline Gmail wasn't ready to be released, removing Gears from Chrome could have been delayed.

{ via François }

34 comments:

  1. Seems strange to not leave a bit of overlap. Looking forward to trying a Chromebook.

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  2. It makes sense. You'd either have to edit massive amounts of version 12 to support gears. Or delay the update for several weeks. This may not seem like a big deal, but in reality it means holding back 99% of chrome user for the sake of slight inconvenience of a tiny minority.

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  3. This is a big deal in the enterprise space which Google has really been trying to make a push into. If you have convinced an organization to standardize on Chrome and then take away a critical feature like offline access you are going to cause tremendous problems. Think about the fact that you have downloaded potentially GB's of data onto your workstation and now you will need to do that again in another browser only to do it again in a few weeks when they catch up. This is horrible!

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  4. wow - its a big deal for me on a very unstable, expensive mobile connection in South Africa. A warning would have been nice.

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  5. You mean Gears was removed in Chrome for Windows. We never had it in Chrome for Linux. Hopefully this summer, we'll have HTML5 local storage for all platforms.

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  6. Yeah, a little warning would have been nice. This gives me yet another reason not to move anything important to Google docs.

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  7. Just don't update Chrome until the HTML5 offline access is implemented.

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  8. With Chromebooks I wonder if users are going to ask for offline Apps (doc, presentations...)

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  9. Naaaaahhhh... why would they ask for an obvious feature like offline docs? It's not like we used to have that or anything.

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  10. Thanks for posting this, it answered my question clearly. I too am very disappointed as I have moved our mail server to Google now I have to use old clunky IE to get offline content from Google...how can this possibly make sense?!

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  11. Yeah, well I've got Firefox 4.0.1 and offline doesn't work there either.

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  12. Ridiculous move, forcing downgrade to FF 3.6.

    Google is completely oblivious to the fact that 95%+ of the world's population doesn't have always-on internet.

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  13. Offline gmail has been deprecated on various platforms for more than a year. That's not a few weeks...

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  14. "Ridiculous move, forcing downgrade to FF 3.6"

    WTF? Just postpone the update and wait for HTML5 for offline.

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  15. This was a wrong move by Google.
    Completely agree with the above commenter: "This is a big deal in the enterprise space which Google has really been trying to make a push into."

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  16. But enterprise like stability.
    Switching to a long term solution like html 5 should over that stability.
    An google big push into enterprise is base on the chrome os, which is will be launching in the summer, most likely after a HTML5 version of off line storage is release by Google.

    Google probably thinking this is short term pain for long stability.

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  17. Really great blog. My friends referred me your site. Looks like everyone knows about it. I'm going to read your other posts. Take care. Keep sharing.

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  18. "Just postpone the update and wait for HTML5 for offline. "

    How do you do that?

    And I thought they removed it from Chrome 11 too...

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  19. better to don't update Chrome until the HTML5 offline access is implemented.

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  20. This really messed me up. Needed an e-mail for a booking confirmation number to get on a coach and after having used offline gmail on chrome for the past 3 months whilst travelling with no problems I finally came unstuck. There should have been a much greater warning about this, first time Google have disappointed me.

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  21. Man on the moon? Check.
    Cloning of genetic material? Check.
    Nuclear weapons and laser-guided-missiles? Check.
    3D movies? Check.
    Digital cameras in our iPhones? Check.

    Native offline access to Google services? Too difficult, apparently.

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  22. Shame as ever, an example of Googles amateurish approach to product release. Unfortunately when companies become big and powerful sometimes innovation and the ability to get things done, collapses. If a competitor came up with a substantially better solution they'd wake up and get it solved pretty quick. It's just they are currently comfortably floating in the warmth of their own glory powered jacuzzi... A bit like Nokia... Ooops...

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  23. owh..
    That's too bad.

    Visit me in
    http://buddytanjaya.blogspot.com

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  24. Thanks for posting this.

    Like many people, my gmail is blocked at work--however, gears, flaky connection mode, and offline mail have been able to get around this--until this week.

    At least now I know why. I would have been nice for the "not evil" powers that be to have acted a little less like Facebook and given us some warning.

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  25. ... and they don't even say a thing in their help about this issue. A deliberate omission like this one, affecting so many people, sounds a little like 'evil' to me.

    Now we start to see the problems of this wonderful 'automatic' update philosophy from Google.

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  26. Sorry to revive an old post, but I'm realizing more and more how bad of a decision this was on Google's part.

    Because of work, I am forced to use a Windows XP laptop. I need to have my Gmail handy. Unfortunately, the only browser still compatible with offline Gmail on my system is Internet Explorer 8. I've set it up to use offline Gmail. Why in the world should I have to use Microsoft's outdated browser to keep doing something through Google's services?

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  27. I tried using a legacy firefox, but its broken as all hell get out.

    Frustrating.

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  28. Wow, almost 2 months.

    I'm getting tired of using Firefox 3.6, and performance seems to be slipping.

    Anyone know if it's possible to install an older, gears-enabled version of Chrome that will _not_ update automatically?

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  29. Thanks for posting. Was just about to buy a Chromebook and was wondering how we could do mail offline.

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  30. Offline Gmail will be available soon (probably in August), so that's not a reason to dismiss the Chromebook.

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  31. I am (was) planning to migrate onto Google Apps for business and offline mail is a critical need as I travel extensively and travel time is email time .. I cant wait for the latest release .... hurry up Google

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  32. "Offline Gmail will be available soon (probably in August), so that's not a reason to dismiss the Chromebook."

    Is this based on anything other than Google's vague promises? They seem to be extraordinarily uninterested in offline, so I am skeptical of anything they say...

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  33. I can't do offline mail in google's own web browser. I used to do it all the time in firefox.
    What's up? Maybe less delay on the new deal.

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  34. Just discovered this today as I sat in a non-wifi'ed coffee shop and tried to access my email, this is nuts, I used to be able to it all the time AND when I do get to the office there is no explanation in Google's help files (only available online!) if fact it says to use offline download Gears.....???

    Google, you are seriously wrong on this one, when can I have access to offline Gmail???

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