Google announced Google Gears at the D conference yesterday, which is an open source browser extension that enables offline web applications. This means web developers will be able to create web applications that users can interact with even without an internet connection — simply put — all those web-based products you love and wished you could use offline may now be a possibility.
Google has described Google Gears as “an incremental improvement to the web as it is today. It adds just enough to AJAX to make current web applications work offline.” Interestingly, Google is releasing Gears as an open source project released under the BSD license even though it is still in need of some fixes. The Gears team is working with Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe developers to make gears even better.
To give us a better idea of what may be possible using this new extension, Google has created a list of sample applications. For developers, there is a tutorial to help you get started. One application that already is promising is the Gearpad. Gearpad is a simple web-based notepad which allows Gears users to write notes and then transition from online to offline and back without losing any information. This even works with an intermittent connection. We tried Gearpad on Rev2′ server and it worked superbly. If you’ve got the Firefox extension installed, you can go ahead and give it a whirl at http://www.rev2.org/gearpad/ — just create a new account.
Google Gears is still in its infancy, but the only limit to the possible use of this extension is the creativity of the internet’s developers. Gears could ease online storage of information, could allow for group collaboration even when not online, or anything else that developers wish to accomplish. This is exciting technology, I can’t wait to see some of the applications of Google Gears. With the popularity of Google Docs and Spreadsheet, Google Gears could prove to be just another move designed to increase Google’s presence in the desktop productivity software category.