Millions of people travel by plane each year for business and need to access data in their e-mail applications. Now that Gmail can work offline, the application instantly becomes more viable for enterprises, most of which use Microsoft's on-premises Outlook e-mail client, for which offline access is native.
Sheth agreed, noting the feature is important for business users that use Gmail every day for a large amount of their communication. TechCrunch notes some limitations of the feature here, including the inability to spell check.
To enable offline access, Google Apps Standard Edition users should sign into Gmail and click Settings, then select the Labs tab and pick Enable next to the Offline Gmail feature prompt. After clicking Save Changes, users should see an Offline link in the upper right-hand corner of the account. Click this link to begin offline data synchronization.
While users of the free standard edition can follow these instructions immediately, Google Apps Premier Edition and Google Apps Education Edition users will need their domain administrators to enable Gmail Labs for everyone on the domain first. However, in businesses where admins have marked the New Features check box in the admin console, users will be able to turn on the Gmail offline feature through Gmail Labs.
Sheth said Google will soon let business users test an early version of the offline Google Calendar. When it does launch in the next couple of weeks, it will be enabled for any Google Apps Standard Edition domain worldwide and any Premier Edition and Education Edition domains with the New Features box checked in the admin console.
Google has long been chided for not providing offline access to Gmail, though it has offered offline access to its Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications for nearly a year.
Sheth said the rollout took so long because offline access for Gmail is such a complex animal, mostly because users generate, store and share more data in Gmail than in any other Google App. More here, on TechMeme.