I’m not sure that the quieting of discontent over offline access was a sign of reliable networks. I think there may have been a selection bias where those of us who needed offline access just used IMAP clients and lived with the hassles, giving up on the idea of the Google behemoth listening to our concerns.
I don’t know about you but Comcast remains far from reliable for me, I use my laptop on the go, etc.
I still avoid using the gmail web interface. To be fair there are multiple reasons, but offline access is a dominant one.
Not that I’ve found a definitely and universally better alternative: IMAP clients on OSX remain horrendously bad, I’m too lazy to set up fetchmail et al, etc. So I live with (the horribly buggy, broken) Airmail app — hitting the gmail UI only for occasional searches that Airmail can’t handle, etc.
… because at the end of the day, for me at least: A broken, offline-first email client is still better 95% of the time than an amazing online-only client.