Google Drops Gears in Favor of HTML5
Article by George Norman
On 22 Feb 2010
Users that adopt the Google Gears browser plugin do so because it “enables more powerful web applications, by adding new features to [the] web browser.” For example, Google Gears lets the user run applications offline. For a while now the Mountains View-based search engine giant has not been actively improving Gears. That’s because Google planned on dropping Gears in favor of HTML5.

And that is precisely what the Gears team has now announced. Powerful features that used to be offered by Gears – like offline stores, geolocation, web workers, and desktop integration – will be supported by HTML5.


“If you've wondered why there haven't been many Gears releases or posts on the Gears blog lately, it's because we've shifted our effort towards bringing all of the Gears capabilities into web standards like HTML5. We're not there yet, but we are getting closer,” commented Gears Team member Ian Fette.

This may not be a popular decision, but it is the right course of action for Google. Sure, developers that embraced Gears will not be happy about the fact that they’ll have to rewrite their code. But with more and more browsers starting to natively support web standards, such as HTML5, the functionality provided by Gears is becoming irrelevant.

How will this change affect you, the user? Google will no longer actively develop Gears; but it will support Gears until there's a way to port entire apps and their userbases to a standards-based approach.

“We will continue to support Gears until such a migration is more feasible, but this support will be necessarily constrained in scope. We will not be investing resources in active development of new features. Likewise, there are some platforms that would require a significant engineering effort to support due to large architectural changes. Specifically, we cannot support Gears in Safari on OS X Snow Leopard and later. Support for Gears in Firefox (including 3.6, which will be supported shortly) and Internet Explorer will continue,” added Ian Fette.

Tags: Google, Google Gears, Gears, HTML5
About the author: George Norman
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