Google Gears (BETA) is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality. Gears just may be the platform Google needs to compete against Microsoft. Here are a few reasons why I think this is the new killer app:
1. Google Docs & Spreadsheets
Imagine being able to take the documents you write offline so that you can edit it on your computer. When you get back online you can synchronize your changes with the version thats on Google’s servers – all within your web-browser – all for FREE.
One of the reasons why Microsoft Outlook is so popular is due to the fact you can read your mail on your desktop (offline). GMail is a great e-mail application, and I have completely replaced Outlook/Thunderbird for that matter. However, if I could read my GMail content offline it would make a nearly perfect product simply golden.
3. Google Maps
Save maps offline. Get driving directions offline. Need I say more?
4. Google Reader
Taking your RSS feeds offline allows you to read more content when you’re not live on the wire. I would love to be able to read Engadget where I’m not connected to the internet.
5. Taking Web 2.0 to Web 2.5
All of those online photo editors, and AJAX apps make life a lot easier. Some of them downright are easier to use than desktop applications. Why not take those apps and bring it to the desktop? We are getting closer and closer to ubiquitous computing.
With the above points mentioned Gears seams awfully similar to Adobe’s Apollo platform. Adobe announced that their platform will integrate the Gears API, paving the way for mass adoption. Microsoft is coming out with their own technology called Silverlight, but as usual its closed-source and will lock you into their technologies. We’ll see where the road lies ahead, but an open-source platform seems very enticing to me. I have a feeling the web is about to get a whole lot smarter.
Note: For all you developers check out the Google Gears API. Make your web application desktop ready. The power of open-source will prevail.