Google shifts in to offline web gear

Google is attempting to bridge the divide between online and offline working by releasing new software that syncronises the two.

At its Developer Day in Sydney today, the company announced Google Gears, an open-source technology platform that allows programmers to build websites that continue to function even without connectivity.

The necessity for offline contingency has come increasingly to the fore in recent months, as more and more web-based applications, like Google Docs & Spreadsheets, have arrived – replacing desktop software, but requiring continuous internet connection.

Google Gears, available as a cross-platform browser extension, introduces a new Javascript API that allows computers to store and cache website data whilst offline. The data can then be synchronised back to websites upon reconnection.

The first application to take advantage of the technology is Google Reader, Google’s RSS feed aggregator, which will allow users to pull down subscribed feeds whilst online and browse them offline – but add their read status back in to the system upon reconnecting.

By releasing the code in to the open source developer community, Google may be able to secure first-mover advantage and create a standardised method for on/off web connectivity.

“With Google Gears, we’re tackling a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications and enabling a better user experience in the cloud,”
said Google CEO Eric Schmidt.