Google Opens Up ReMail Application

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Google is open-sourcing the code for its recently acquired ReMail application, citing strong interest in the mobile search product

Google has decided to open-source the code for its recently acquired ReMail application, citing strong interest in the product.

Google purchased ReMail on 18 Feb. ReMail’s founder, Gabor Cselle, built a popular application that lets Apple iPhone users download their e-mail and conduct full-text e-mail search.

The application was considered by many iPhone users to be the best of its kind. Google faced some complaints after removing ReMail’s iPhone application from Apple’s App Store with plans to discontinue it. ReMail would, however, continue to work for those who downloaded it, Google said.

Cselle, a former Google engineering intern who rejoined Google as a product manager on the Gmail team, said after considering a number of options for keeping the product available to users, Google decided to open-source the code under the Apache 2.0 license.

“As someone who is passionate about mobile e-mail, my hope is that developers interested in making e-mail-related apps can use ReMail code as a starting point,” Cselle wrote on the ReMail blog.

“Part of the reason e-mail apps are hard is because you have to pay the tax of figuring out how to download e-mail via IMAP, parse MIME [Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension] messages, handle attachments and store data. ReMail has already solved these problems. If you have a great mobile e-mail idea, I hope you will find ReMail’s source code helpful in your quest.”

Google is offering the code on its Google Code Website. In addition to the typical code documentation, Cselle suggested potential projects with implementation tips geared toward creating features that users have requested in the past. The open-sourcing of ReMail signals a trend for Google acquisitions when it plans to kill off a product.

When Google acquired AppJet in December 2009, Google said it would no longer offer AppJet’s popular EtherPad real-time editing application to new users or allow existing users to create new editing sessions.

After this plan attracted an angry mob of EtherPad users, Google released the EtherPad code to open source, also under the Apache 2.0 license.

Expect more of these open-source moves in cases where Google buys products either to integrate into its own portfolio or destroy to reduce competition.

While the AppJet engineers are building EtherPad-like editing for Google Wave, ReMail’s Cselle will likely build a version of ReMail for smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system.

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