Google Offline for iPod Touch
December 24, 2009 12:58 AM   Subscribe

On the iPod touch, how do mail and calendars work when you are not connected to wifi?

I'm thinking of getting an iPod touch but I have a few important questions first.

I have a Gmail account and several Google Calendars that I would want to be able to view on my iPod touch. I understand that Google has native iPhone versions of these pages, so I can view them in mobile Safari (and I also know I also have the option of syncing my mail via IMAP). But what happens when I'm not connected to wifi? Can I see my old emails? Can I set up my device to "download", say, the past 2 months of email and all my current calendars? I can think of a lot of situations where I'd want to refer to an email that I had previously gotten (say, double-check the address of the place I need to be at) but I'm not able to get online with my device.

I feel like this is a simple question but I haven't been able to find answers yet. Any help is appreciated!
posted by rossination to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
While I /think/ that they use HTML5 storage to allow you to access these pages while offline, I think you're going to be a lot happier by using the built-in mail and calendar applications with Google's stuff. For Mail, Google actually supports push email on the iPhone, and the Calendar app can sync just fine with Google's stuff. You'll get a much better user experience using the native apps, and you'll get things like mail being checked without you having to explicitly open the application, or in the case of push email, you'll be notified of a new mail the moment it arrives.
posted by floam at 1:04 AM on December 24, 2009

Thanks for the quick response, and sorry for my thread minding, but -- how does that translate to my experience with mail/calendars while offline? If I do use the built-in mail program, for instance, how many of my old emails can I see while not connected?
posted by rossination at 1:06 AM on December 24, 2009

It looks like, at least on my iPhone here, the last 200 messages. In the case of calendars, you basically get everything. I'm not sure how the email thing would work with gmail in the offline mode, I'm guessing you'd only be able to read emails you'd actually pulled up on the phone before, but I don't know. It'd probably be a bit hit-and-miss.
posted by floam at 1:08 AM on December 24, 2009

(and that's per folder, so I've got 200 of my last mails in Inbox, 200 in All Mail, and 200 going back in my different folders I've got).
posted by floam at 1:19 AM on December 24, 2009

I have an iPod touch, have multiple emails accounts and a dense calendar (all my wife and daughters appointments are in there too). All of the old information is easily accessible when not in Wifi range. Hell, I can even ask get directions in the Maps app and they'll still be available when Wifi is gone.

That said, I don't use Gmail via Safarai, instead that account is hooked through the Mail app and works just fine.

The "trick" with email accounts is to set them up as IMAP accounts and that way you'll have ALL of your email available on the iTouch. I have accounts with hundreds of megs of mail and one approaching a gig and they're stored, with all their large attachments and those attachments are viewable, even when not on Wifi.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:21 AM on December 24, 2009

Just a note: when you add a Gmail account through the default setup process, it doesn't pick IMAP automatically so you need to do it manually. It's not at all difficult though — the instructions are here (ignore the 'Quick Answer').
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 3:49 AM on December 24, 2009

rossination: “Thanks for the quick response, and sorry for my thread minding, but -- how does that translate to my experience with mail/calendars while offline? If I do use the built-in mail program, for instance, how many of my old emails can I see while not connected?”

To give a simple, direct answer to this: yes, you will be able to see your email when not connected to wifi on an iPhone - in fact, you should be able to see all of it. It sounds like you're used to using Gmail in the conventional way, as a webmail thing; but you should know that Gmail also makes it easy to pipe it into another program. For example, if you wanted to, you could check your Gmail using Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. (I do this all the time.) Even on a laptop or other computer, viewing Gmail through one of these other programs, and thereby downloading all of your email every time you check it, allows you to see your email even when you're not connected.

You should know that, while I don't know much about the iPhone's apps, I know that Gmail on mobile devices isn't usually exactly the same as the Gmail you've been using on the web. Usually Gmail works better when you download and install Google's special Gmail Mobile program on your phone, and then access your email through that. (Gmail Mobile also allows you to view past emails when offline.) I'm pretty sure Google Calendar is similar. It sounds like floam can point you in the right direction on this.

In short, though: not only on an iPhone but on most other smart-phones as well as laptops, it is indeed possible to view your Gmail even when you're offline.
posted by koeselitz at 4:39 AM on December 24, 2009

I use the iPod's default mail client with Gmail on IMAP, as several above mentioned. Set to download the last 100 messages only, which is usually all I need when mobile. Works like a charm, and I never use the Google client app.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:04 AM on December 24, 2009

For Google calendars, set your gCal account to sync with the iPod's iCal following these directions. iCal is much more graceful to use than the gCal mobile interface.

Make changes to your calendar on the iPod when you don't have internet, and then when you do have internet they'll sync both ways. This is my to-do list and basically how I plan out my entire life.
posted by Brittanie at 8:26 AM on December 24, 2009

One more thing: if you don't have the 3.0 OS (required for gCal syncing) and you don't want to upgrade, NuevaSync does the same thing.
posted by Brittanie at 8:28 AM on December 24, 2009

Hooray! Thanks for all the answers, everyone.
posted by rossination at 10:21 AM on December 24, 2009

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