Google ports Gears to mobile to support offline app use

To some, the desktop version of Gears may have not made a lot of sense. But Google's port to mobile phones seems to show the platform's promise.

Google Gears was meant to assist sites in taking their Web applications offline, thus allowing developers to offer their services when no data connection is available. The functionality is added to a user's browser through a plugin for either IE or Firefox.

However, in this era of continuous connections, such functionality is somewhat useless. This could be the reason why adoption of the technology has been somewhat limited thus far.

Porting it to mobile platforms probably makes more sense, as many users are not continuously online for a variety of reasons. Additionally, making a mobile application use less data throughput could save the end user money as some providers still charge for data in relation to the bandwidth used.

"You can create slick and responsive applications by hiding latency issues through controlled caching of data and storage of information between sessions," mobile product manager Charles Wiles said.

Initially, the company has offered Gears for those using Windows Mobile smart phones running either Internet Explorer Mobile versions 5 or 6. Google said it does have plans in the future to port to "Android and other mobile platforms with capable web browsers."

Some mobile application builders have already begun to integrate the Gears technology into their platforms. Zoho, a Web-based productivity suite, includes the technology that would allow the viewing of documents offline.

Another site, financial organizer Buxfer, is also including the plug-in to make their pages accessible offline. In either case, when the user visits the mobile site on IE Mobile, they would be asked to install the plug-in.

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