‘Third World Problem’ Series – Need for Offline Gmail mobile app

How many times have you been stuck in a situation where in you try to open Gmail mobile app in an area with poor or no internet connectivity in order to fetch some mails which has access to tickets or bills in vain?


Some instances where I got stuck because of this problem is when  trying to retrieve tickets for movies or train,bus tickets for my travel.It is for this very reason that Gmail (or for that matter any email service provider)should have offline capability so that it can help us in conditions when there is a poor network connectivity but need to access mails.

This is my how I expect the offline functionality to work:

1. Users should be able to set rules to make mails received from certain e-mail address offline by default.

2.User should also be able to make an individual mail also be available for offline .Marking it for offline should move it a different folder where all offline mails are stored.

3.When a mail is made available offline , its corresponding attachment also has to be made available offline. But user must be prompted in case when the mail attachment size is really huge so that user can decide.

4.User should have settings do decide how often these offline content needs to be archived , frequency etc and whether offline caching has to be enabled when connected to wi-fi only etc

5.User should be able to choose offline mode for Gmail if the app takes a lot of time to load the latest emails from server.This will help in accessing the required email easily  .

Google, are you listening ?


The Dumb Recommendation engine of eCommerce sites

Have you ever purchased a product from e-commerce site? Many chances are that you would have received recommendations when you loged into the site next time or through mailers about products that are similar to what you have purchased before.

If you buy a DSLR camera , the site will recommend DLSR from other brands.

If you buy an earphone , the site will recommend earphones from other brands .

recommendation engine


But is this recommendation meaningful to a buyer ? Who on earth would you buy something similar to whatever they purchased recently especially if the product costs a lot ? People do buy similar products regularly, but it depends on the type of product you purchase.

For instance, if you buy a new book or blue ray disc of a popular movie , then it makes sense to recommend other book or movies from same author or genre. But when you buy a new blue ray player , what makes sense is to recommend blue ray disc and not blue ray players again.

So my ideal recommendation engine should be like :

If I buy a new DLSR , site should recommend to buy memory card or tripod or  lens

If I buy an earphone and site has no related recommendation , then it should recommend only products that I have recently searched but not bought it yet. Or in worst case if there are no recommendation available , display latest offers instead of wasting the screen real estate

So what e-commerce sites needs to do is to have proper categorization of products and a suitable recommendation mapping so that it makes sense for the buyer to consider  .