Google Gears grinds to a halt

Web building

Search giant brands HTML 5 as Google Gears version two

Google is abandoning development of Gears as it looks to spur greater adoption of HTML 5 technologies by browser makers.

Gears was launched back in 2007 and allowed web applications such as Gmail to cache files locally, giving them the ability to work offline.

The HTML 5 specification replicates Gears' offline abilities, and adds native support for video and audio without needing to install separate plug-ins. It also features a geolocation API that's already been built into Google Maps.

In order to push browser makers into adopting HTML 5, Google says it will cease development of Gears, though it will continue to support the utility.

We're very focused on moving HTML 5 forward, and that's where we're putting all of our energy

"We're very focused on moving HTML 5 forward, and that's where we're putting all of our energy," Linus Upson, engineering director at Google, told PC Magazine.

"When we started the Gears project, we did it because we couldn't get the browser vendors interested in building offline applications. And so, so we said, okay, we'll build a plugin that could do it. And lo and behold, once we shipped Gears, suddenly the browser vendors got very interested in adding capabilities to build offline applications.

"You can almost think of what's in HTML 5, with app cache, and database, and those things, as essentially Gears 2, and that's how we view it," Upson concludes.

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