Google Inc. will roll out POP3 (Post Office Protocol) support gradually over the coming weeks to Gmail users, who will be able to use the feature to download e-mail messages from Gmail servers to e-mail applications on devices such as PCs and wireless devices.
With POP3 support, users will be able to transfer their server-based Gmail messages to a client-side e-mail application such as Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook and have the messages stored on their local hard drive and thus accessible when they are offline. Users with wireless devices that have POP3-compliant e-mail clients will also be able to download their Gmail messages to personal digital assistants or cell phones.
These and other possible enhancements, such as adding further wireless device support through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or XHTML (Extensible HTML), are part of Google's attempt to eventually make Gmail, which is still being beta tested, the most feature-rich Web mail service available, a Google executive said.
"We want to make it the best e-mail service in every single dimension so you have absolutely no reason to use any other," said Georges Harik, who is in charge of new projects at Google and whose title is director of Googlettes, the term the company uses to refer to this type of effort.
Google considers POP3 support a must-have for Gmail.
"This is a very important feature that every e-mail system should provide. We're going to make it easy both to transition into and out of Gmail so you can use the best possible e-mail reading interface," Harik said.
"We're making our way down the list of things so in the end you'll be able to access Gmail on everything," he said.
Also in the works is beefed-up antivirus protection. Currently, Gmail protects users against viruses by blocking messages that have certain files attached to them, such as exe., or executable, files. But a full-fledged virus-scanning feature is on the horizon for Gmail, Harik said.
"We block executables and other things that are usually carriers of viruses so most viruses don't go through, but there are always weird file types. So we're working on getting a full antivirus scanning solution to add to the current list of things that we do. We're likely to possibly license one (from a third party)," Harik said.
Also a possibility for Gmail would be support for IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), a protocol similar to POP3 but more sophisticated, he said.