Google Gears

Google Gears

Google’s been doing plenty of work, and buying, to create an office suite which runs online. Those who see it as a potential Microsoft killer are always challenged on the fact that the online tools are great while you have a live web connection, but are not so cool when you are stuck somewhere without one.

Desktop applications, of course, don’t need a web connection to work, and so are of far more use when one isn’t available. Microsoft triumphs again.

But Google has released something which might change all that. Gears is a system whereby online information can be downloaded and used offline. As the home page so succinctly puts it:

Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using following JavaScript APIs:

  • Store and serve application resources locally
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
  • Run asynchronous Javascript to improve application responsiveness

Amen to that!

There’s only one Gears application at the moment, but it’s a cool one. It’s for Google Reader, the best of breed online RSS aggregator, which lets you download your feeds and read them even when not connected to the web. Excellent!

The potential with this is significant, of course. Being able to use Docs and Spreadsheets, and the forthcoming Presentation app whilst offline will seriously increase their usefulness. Indeed, wiki editing whilst offline would be very nice, and even blogging, using the built in editors that come with WordPress and Blogger, rather than third party applications should be possible. Exciting times.

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