mandag 22. februar 2010

Open standards win again: Google drops Gears for HTML5

Google announced this weekend that it’s going to be ending support for Google Gears, its product for allowing offline access to applications like Gmail and Google Docs.
Instead of developing Gears, Google said in a blog post it will be focusing on using HTML5 to support offline capabilities from within the applications themselves, rather than needing an add-on like Gears.
Google will continue to support Gears, because “Gears has helped us deliver much-desired functionality, such as the ability to offer offline access in GMail, to a large number of users.” But it won’t be supported on operating systems or browsers where it doesn’t currently work (like Safari on Snow Leopard), and eventually will be totally phased out.
This change isn’t going to make much difference for users, and might actually make the experience of some Google apps better. What is a change, though, is how open Google’s being about their plans to get rid of Gears. There were inklings of Gears’ death before, but this is a pretty hefty nail in the coffin.
The announcement seems to be Google throwing more weight between HTML 5. There’s quite the battle going on out there these days between Flash and HTML5, or more accurately between Steve Jobs and Flash, over which will be the dominant standard going forward. Though it’s not directly related, Google’s continuing support of HTML5 over proprietary standards is a big endorsement for HTML5, and could be a catalyst for HTML5, which natively supports many of these features, over any closed standards, like Gears or Flash.
It’s also an endorsement of the power of the browser, the tool Google believes will take over as the primary interface to information and entertainment going forward. The power of the browser is what Chrome OS is banking on, and supporting HTML5 brings even more Google power into the browser.
If Google’s move convinces other people to make browsers and browser applications more powerful, that’s inevitably a win for Google. And, it appears, a win for users.
Companies: Google

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