Google shows Web-based offline Gmail on iPhone

Showing that its Web application priorities extend to the mobile world, Google on Wednesday demonstrated a version of Gmail for the iPhone that could be used even when the phone had no network connection.

Vic Gundotra, Google’s vice president of engineering, showed off at the 2009 GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona what he called a “technical concept” of Gmail even when the iPhone was offline. In January, Google released an offline version of Gmail for desktops and laptops, and like it, the mobile phone incarnation runs in a Web browser, not as a native application.

The software let Gundotra browse and read e-mail even after he switched the phone into airplane mode, which shuts off the wireless network. To watch a demonstration, check the demo video on iPhone Buzz.

Offline applications can’t of course retrieve new data from the network, but they do synchronize when network access is restored. Meanwhile, e-mail is stored in a local database on the phone, even when online.

“You’ll note that it’s very, very fast because it’s using that local database,” Gundotra said. The application also showed a floating toolbar that was visible even as he scrolled through his in-box.

Originally posted at Webware

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