Smart Compose and offline mode have arrived in Gmail

As promised, Google has rolled out new key features for Gmail. Native offline mail support is now available after it was promised as a follow-up to the major redesign that launched late last month. You have to be using Chrome as your Web browser to access this feature, though.

Additionally, Google has launched Smart Compose.

This feature was unveiled at Google I/O last week. It’s a predictive text feature, but it goes beyond the word-completion and autocorrect features we normally see by suggesting complete sentences for your emails based on AI analysis of your emails’ text.

Offline mail

This is the first time Gmail has supported offline use without additional software or extensions. Google previously offered offline email through Google Gears in ages past as well as a Chrome extension. Now it’s baked right into Gmail natively, so Google is encouraging users to uninstall the old extension in favor of this feature.

Google has published a short support page explaining how to set up and use the feature and what its limitations are. The most critical limitation is that it’s only supported on the Chrome Web browser—Chrome 61 or later, specifically.

Offline mail works by syncing information with the servers each time you connect. In other words, you can read mail, archive it, and perform other functions while offline, and the actions will take effect on Google’s servers once you are back online.

The feature is enabled in the “offline” tab of settings in the new Gmail. Those using “classic Gmail” must use the old, extension-based method. Offline mail defaults to “off.” Once you check the box to enable it, several settings are revealed.

You can specify how far back emails are stored—the options are the last seven days, 30 days, or 90 days—and whether to store attachments. There are also two security options for what happens to locally stored data when you log off.

The options are:

The feature is available to all users who are on the latest versions of Chrome and Gmail.

Smart Compose

Announced at the Google I/O conference, Smart Compose continues Google’s focus on AI-driven features. It suggests entire phrases and sentences based on analysis of your emails.

To use Smart Compose, you have to enable access to experimental features, which only works on the new Gmail, which Google explains in another support page. These are the instructions for enabling it, via that page:

  1. In the top right corner, click SettingsSettings and then Settings. If you haven’t started using the new Gmail yet, click Try the new Gmail.
  2. Under “General,” scroll down to Experimental Access.
  3. Click the box to Enable experimental access.
  4. At the bottom of the page, click Save changes.

The feature is neat, but as one might expect, it doesn’t work well if you stray from the usual phrases and email formats.

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