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Google Gears grinds to a halt

Web building

By Stuart Turton

Posted on 2 Dec 2009 at 11:06

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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User comments

How does HTML5's support for video work?

Before FLV came along, putting video online was a nightmare, choosing which format to encode it in etc...

Is this a move back to the bad old days of having multiplae versions to run on Mac and PC etc.?

By Grunthos on 2 Dec 2009

If everything works out, browser builders will settle on a standard video and audio codec for web content.

So far it hasn't worked out, with some browser builders attributing more importance to the codec being open source (because of licensing costs), while to others the quality per bit of the supposed standard is most important (most notably Google, which wants to minimize the bandwidth YouTube needs).

Recently Google acquired a company that builds high quality codecs, so rumor has it Google might be working on a solution that satisfies both camps.

By Woudenberg on 2 Dec 2009

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