Ronnie05's Blog

Google Gears must die… (for the larger cause)!!

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on December 2, 2009

Linus Upson, the man in charge of both the Chrome browser and Chrome OS engineering teams has announced the death of Google Gears. Gears was launched by Google, Mozilla and Opera 3 years back to access web applications offline in browsers. PC Magazine quoted Upson, “We are not driving forward in any meaningful way [on Gears],”. The support wouldnot be drawn out so that applications continue working. Google has been pushing the HTML 5 for some time now. Interestingly as the plot unfolds, Google Gears was the precursor of HTML 5, literally and figuratively.

Quoting Upson “When we started the Gears project, three years ago… we did it because we couldn’t get the browser vendors interested in building offline applications.” He then details the mind trick: Google ships Gears, and suddenly browser vendors are “very interested in adding capabilities to build offline applications,” paving the way for the capabilities in the next version of HTML. Clever, Google. In the same interview, Upson stated the company’s plans to move all its apps to standards-based HTML 5 APIs”. Neat trick Google!!!

Much of the technology in Gears, including offline support and geolocation APIs, are being incorporated into the HTML5 spec as an open standard supported across browsers, and that is the logical next step for developers looking to include these features in their websites.Google is now pushing developers to use HTML5 for these features moving forward as it’s a standards-based approach that will be available across all browsers. The company wants to push HTML5 so that people use it to write web apps that match the quality of the native apps for its two emergent platforms: Android and Chrome OS.

Why HTML5 for Google?

Reason 1:
Google’s biggest problem with both of these mobile-oriented operating systems is that it has to work with hardware partners, which makes it difficult for the company to maintain a tight control on the ecosystem. Motorola, HTC, Sony Ericsson and Samsung have all come out with their own interfaces for the Android, which is already causing some developer dissatisfaction. Against such a backdrop, it makes perfect sense for Google to promote web-based apps, because it means there be will a unified experience for end users, regardless of the device (and the platform.)

Reason 2:
Blame Apple: As admitted by CEO Eric Schmidt, Google needs the open internet to take the fight to Apple in the apps space. While Apple builds up its path to the next big platform: The Superphone, it has effectively kept the Apps Store out of Google’s reach. Thus Apple is making the Mobile Apps device stationary.Google on the other hand is trying to put the apps on the internet with easy access such that it can access user activity in order to serve more targeted advertising. HTML 5 is Google’s weapon and key access to internet led apps activity. With web apps, Google can not only continue to have access to user data (public not private), it can also continue to serve advertising to those users. For developers, it would mean embedding Google ads in their web apps.

Thus the full story: Google Gears kindles interest in Offline Applications. It builds scale for HTML 5 to take over. HTML 5 serves Google’s dual need to make platform uniform and serve up ads to application heavy consumers.

Kudos to the thought and Google’s plan, except for one small thing: Web apps will need better wireless networks with much lower latency and higher bandwidth capabilities in order to meet (and beat) the native apps.

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