One of the biggest knocks against Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Gmail, ThinkFree Office, and other online applications is that you need a fast and reliable Internet connection to use them. No Web access, no data.
Google hopes to eliminate this limitation with Google Gears, a free open-source browser extension that developers can use to create offline versions of their Web applications. The company hopes Gears will lead to the development of a single industry standard for writing offline apps.
The first program created with the Gears API is the Google Reader feed-reading application, which is available today. The company is counting on application developers to extend and enhance the Gears environment, which is why Google decided to release it “in its early stages,” according to the company.
The Gears API will be available for all Web development environments, including Adobe’s Apollo product, which also allows Web apps to run on the desktop. Adobe chief software architect Kevin Lynch says his company is happy to be working with Google to create “a standard cross-platform, cross-browser local storage capability.”