One of the many, many, many problems with webmail can be found right in its name – “web”. Accessing your email using a web interface can definitely be convenient as it’s accessible from any browser you happen upon. At the same time however, if your internet connection drops you’re basically left out in the cold. As opposed to local email management solutions that can store your messages on your machine such as Outlook, you have no way to view old messages and work with what you’ve got. Sure, Gmail supports POP and IMAP but at this point we think it’s safe to say that POP is dead. IMAP works well in some cases but Outlook and Gmail’s IMAP implementation never seem to get along very well thanks to the way Gmail threads conversations. Enter the aptly named new service fresh from Gmal Labs, Offline Gmail. When you enable Offline Gmail, a cache of your messages will be stored locally and will become accessible even when your internet connection drops. You can read, compose, star and do just about anything else you would normally be able to do. When your connection comes back, all of the actions you performed offline will sync with Google’s Gmail servers and you’ll be good to go. Of course you won’t be able to receive new messages while offline, but at least you won’t be left twiddling your thumbs until your cable company finally gets around to fixing your problem. Hit the Labs tab in your Gmail settings to get rolling with Offline Gmail and hit the jump for a video explanation of the service.
Google has launched its new Gears Geolocation API for mobile and desktop browsers. Websites using this API can provide targeted information based upon your current location. The API determines your location using GPS or cell phone triangulation for cell phones and the IP address for desktop browsers. If you are in the UK, you can see the Gears Geolocation API in action on supported Windows Mobile devices at the European Travel site, lastminute.com, and the social discovery tool, Rummble. Point your mobile browser to m.lastminute.com or m.rummble.com, install the Gears application, and get your location based web content served up to you. Gears currently is only available for Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Mobile devices and for Firefox and Internet Explorer on the desktop. Expansion to include other devices and operating systems such as Android is expected. It is also free for both developers and users. All in all, not bad guys, not bad.