March 04, 2008, 3:58 PM — Google's quest to keep
browser-based applications running while offline is expanding to where it may
be needed most: mobile devices.
A version of the Google Gears browser extension software is available to developers,
according to a Monday
blog posting by Google Mobile Product Manager Charles Wiles. So far it's
available only for Microsoft Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Mobile 5 and
6 devices, but there will be versions for other platforms, including Google's
own Android system, Wiles wrote.
Google Gears, still in beta testing, lets people continue to work with Web-based
applications after they've gone offline. Data and documents are saved on the
device so users can see and work on them any time. Gears is already available
for desktops and notebooks, with versions for Internet Explorer on Windows XP
and Vista, and for Firefox on XP, Vista, MacOS and Linux. Gears for Mobile is
a port of that software.
Although notebook PC users sometimes fire up their systems where wired or wireless
Internet access isn't available, users of handheld devices with cellular data
services often are at the mercy of carrier networks where coverage comes in
and out. Using Gears to cache data on devices, developers can create Web-based
applications that not only are usable completely offline, but also are more
responsive where networks suffer delays, according to Google.
Users can download
Google Gears for Mobile, and developers also can get
an API (application programming interface) to add it to their software.
A few mobile applications already use Gears for Mobile, including Buxfer personal-finance
software. Zoho, which makes a suite of Web-based applications including word
processing, spreadsheet, presentations and organizer, also is working with Gears
With Zoho Writer word-processing software, users can view their documents on
Internet Explorer Mobile both online and offline. Zoho will offer mobile document
editing later, according
to a company blog.