Google has been trumpeting its plans to ditch its Gears extension for offline access for quite a while, and now we've got a final cut-off date. Gears will stop working on all Google sites from December 1 this year, and soon afterwards Google will stop people from downloading the extension.
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Windows/Mac/Linux: Most developers did a bang-up job preparing their extensions for the Firefox 3.5 update, but on the Firefox 3.5 release day, one very popular extension didn't make the cut: Google's browser plug-in, Gears.
Roughly one month after Google Apps users got it, Gears-powered offline access comes to all Google Calendar users. The same limitations apply, but it's not a bad way to ensure access to your agenda. Head to your calendar page and hit the "Offline (beta)" link to start the syncing process. If you don't have Google Gears installed, you'll need to do so, and you'll be prompted to install shortcuts to GCal on your computer. The first sync only applies to your primary calendar, though—click the green checkmark in the upper-right and hit "Offline Settings" to bring more of your calendars offline. I didn't notice any kind of limitations, but Alex at Google Operating System wrote that his calendar only synced Feb. 4 through June 4 of this year when he synced his calendars today. The big missing Feature Elephant in this online room is that you can't create new events while you're offline to sync up later. How will GCal offline be useful to you? Tell us your take in the comments.
On the heels of Mozilla's location-aware Geode extension for Firefox, Google announces that Google Gears will get a geolocation functionality for laptop Wi-Fi users, so you can get local news and searches without manually entering your location.
Zoho Mail, a web-based email client long in private beta in the Zoho office suite, is now publicly available. Those with Zoho accounts and Google Gears installed will notice that you can hit an "Offline" button to download a pre-set number of sent mail and inbox messages, and reply to them for sending when you're back online. Zoho Mail features both traditional folders and label sorting, or use of both, and POP import/export, with IMAP access promised in the near future. Zoho Mail is a free service, requires a sign-up with Zoho.Zoho Mail
Google Gears, the browser plug-in that lets you access your favourite webapps when you're not online, is now out of beta and available for the Safari browser for Macs (in addition to Firefox on all platforms). Gears gives you offline access to Remember the Milk, Zoho Suite, Google Docs, and more webapps.