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02 December 2009, 10:16

Google Gears to grind to halt

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Google has announced that it will be focussing its web development plans on HTML5 and that, as a result, development on Google Gears is to slowly wind down. Gears was introduced by Google in 2007 as a browser plug-in to support local browser databases and geolocation functionality. Since then, many of the functions of Gears have been incorporated into the emerging HTML5 specification which is being implemented by Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari and Google's own Chrome web browser. This has left Gears looking more like a non-standard extension, even though it pioneered the ideas of offline databases and caches.

Google has decided that it will freeze active development of the Gears plug-in, but will continue to support it to ensure that sites which make use of Gears are not broken. This change of emphasis from Google can be seen as a reinforcement of its position that with HTML5 it will be possible to deliver a wide range of online and offline capabilities in a standards based approach; this idea is key to the design principles behind Chrome OS which will provide a browser centric operating system for netbook scale devices. Google have an active presence in the development of HTML5, as Google employee Ian Hickson is working as one of the editors of the specification.

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