Google Gears

Google Gears, according to a post on every productivity blog today (here’s one), is the latest cool Google tool. There’s a new Gears blog too.

So far as I understand, the only current application lets you read feeds offline. Perhaps I’m missing something but – what exactly is the point of that?

  • I use feeds to alert me to interesting website content – which I then want to visit and read. Can’t really do that offline. . .
  • When I’m offline it’s for a good reason – to relax, stop working and have a break from feeds, email and all the rest of it. I don’t need to carry a reminder of what I’m not reading everywhere I go – especially when I can’t do anything about it. If you’re offline – well, be offline, not semi-online. Smell some flowers or something.

Gears today covers what we think is the minimal set of primitives required for offline apps. It is still a bit rough and in need of polish, but we are releasing it early because we think the best way to make Gears really useful is to evolve it into an open standard

To be honest, I’m starting to tire of very-beta early release Google apps. They’re great when they work well, but Google seem very slow to improve those that don’t. I’m thinking Groups (still no integration with other apps), Reader (still no search), iGoogle (seems to break a little more every day at the moment). Are they overstretching themselves? Or struggling to prioritise? Time will tell.

Perhaps Google, by releasing their APIs, are just relying on the open source community to do the work. There are certainly lots of great enhancements around (Greasemonkey scripts and so on), but I’d still like to see a little more effort by Google to polish certain products before release.

4 thoughts on “Google Gears

  1. Morgan

    I completely agree. I am still waiting for some long awaited improvements to Google Calendar. I made the switch almost a year ago thinking that it would be a great application that will continue to improve over time, but now I am starting to worry!

  2. Pedro Beltrao

    If I get it right, they want to make this a standard. That is why Adobe and some other people are in it from the start and another reason to make it open source. I also read somewhere that Silverligh already has this functionality so that is another reason to get it out sooner. Plus it is developers week. All of these probably rushed them to get it out fast. I don’t care too much about not having the reader when I am offline, but for example access to gmail would be useful sometimes.
    I am actually more excited about the mashup editor (http://code.google.com/gme/tour/tour1.html) and host site they launched, but it in closed beta so it is hard to see yet how good it is. It is amazing the amount of work we can do now on someone else’s machines. We can use, Google base as a relational database, openkapow to build and host some screen scrapers (interface for any known database with a webserver) and then something like this Google mashup editor or Yahoo pipes or microsoft PopFly to build a frontend mashup.

  3. nsaunders Post author

    Mashup does look pretty cool. I hope we see some great, bioinformatics-related (and other) tools come from all this.

  4. Pierre

    … we could have so much fun with mashups if the sequences of DNA had two dimensions. Who said that mother Nature was perfect ? :-)

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