Google demo offline Gmail client for Android and iPhone

February 19, 2009

    image_50As I am sure you are aware, Android Authority has been reporting live from the MWC in Barcelona. Unfortunately, it is impossible to be in more than one place at the same time and we regrettably missed a presentation from Vic Gundotra, Vice President of Engineering at Google. However, thanks to YouTube (video below) we can bring you the details nonetheless.

    In the presentation, Vic Gundotra demos a Gmail-esque web application using HTML 5 based standards. The point of the presentation was to demonstrate two things; offline Gmail and application ‘cross-over’, the latter of which Google claim to have never done in public before.

    Using the WC3 standard that falls under the umbrella specification of HTML 5, Google show how it is possible to run an offline Gmail application that uses a secure local copy of the relevant email database stored on the device. Some new additions to the graphical user interface include a ‘floating’ tool bar that appears when you select multiple messages; when you start to scroll down to look for other messages it follows you, making it easy to access at any time. There is also great label support too. Obviously the most interesting part of this application is how it runs when there is no network connectivity (e.g. 3G,Wifi, etc.).  When the web application is launched and there is no internet connection, it realises it is offline and uses the ‘AppCache’ (part of HTML 5). This causes everything to come up as normal and creates a fully working offline application that is identical to when it has an internet connection. One of the main benefits of this is that the email application runs super fast because everything is in memory.

    Vic Gundotra goes on to show how the application demoed on the iPhone can also run on the new HTC Magic Android based device. This is because the Magic implements the latest specification of modern HTML 5 web browsers. This ‘application crossover’ will mean a lot to developers, because it makes the application truly portable between operating systems, drastically saving development time. Although the software itself is just a prototype, the presentation reveals just how committed Google are to helping developers out.

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