Yesterday, Google started a new open source project called Google Gears. Google Gears is a browser extension that allows you to use some prebuilt API’s to provide offline functionality. This includes storing data locally on a machine, storing your application on the machine, and also the ability to sync back up to the online application when connected to the internet again.
This is a big deal.
One of their first examples is in Google Reader, which I use every day. If you have Reader open, there should be a link at the top that says ‘Offline’. After clicking that (and installing Gears), Reader will download the last 2000 new messages to your machine. This way, you can read them whenever you want, mark them as read, etc. And then when you connect again, it will sync your read articles, and update itself accordingly. Thats awesome!
I think one of the bigger punches with this new utility is going to be some of the other apps, especially Google Documents. Im sure soon you will be able to add, modify, and delete documents like you were using a word processor on you computer. Then, when connecting again, your documents would sync and you could also collaborate with others as well.
If you want to read more, I recomending checking out ArsTechnica’s post on Gears as well.
Im surprised that this did not get bigger recognition in the tech community yesterday, even though its still focused more at developers. I guess the updated Apple TV and Microsoft’s Surface and iTunes Plus (now with DRM-free songs!) took over.