Google fixes offline Gmail app, increases student appeal?

Google has released a number of improvements to its offline Chrome application. Are updates a reason why students are heavy Gmail users?

According to Google's official Gmail blog, key updates have now been made to their offline Gmail app, available for the Chrome web browser.

Since it is web-based, current users will notice the updates the next time they open the application. According to senior software engineer Dave Stewart, this is the latest move to improve its "HTML5-powered offline journey".

The changes made to the application are:

  • The addition of a settings page, accessible via a new settings icon.
  • All attachments are now downloaded and available for offline use.
  • Keyboard shortcuts enabled in Gmail are now able to be transferred over to the Gmail offline app.
  • Messages and attachments now download at a faster rate.
  • Small bugs have also been tweaked to improve the overall usability of the app.

My personal favourite is the increased synchronisation capacities of the Gmail offline app. Users are now able to choose between various time frames -- 7, 14, or 31 days' -- of email to be synchronised without an Internet connection. The idea of trawling through a month's worth of emails is enough to make one's head spin, but simply having the option to use this feature is a vast improvement. This is a big step for Google, considering the last version only synced up to the last 7 days' worth of email.

It is suspected that Gmail dominates the student marketshare of email use. Once a user signs up for an email account, generally it becomes unlikely that they will switch provider -- unless of course, as history shows, issues occur like increased spam levels or poor functionality.

Google is one of the few email providers I view to be interested in making continual improvements to their email functionality -- which is why by offering additional features and making their service interfaces increasingly user-friendly, they will continue to grow and expand their student user base.

The offline Gmail app for Chrome can be downloaded and installed via the Chrome web store.

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