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What Is Google Gears?

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Enabling Google Gears on Google Calendar

Enabling Google Gears on Google Calendar

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What Google Gears Is:

Google Gears is a Web browser extension that allows offline access to some online applications by downloading data to your hard drive. Google Gears is not restricted to making online tools work offline. It also allows for enhanced online functionality.

Apps must be written to specifically use Google Gears, so installing Google Gears won't suddenly make all of your online tools work offline. However, there is a workaround for Firefox users.

Supported Browsers:

  • Windows: Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox
  • Mac OSX: Safari or Firefox
  • Linux: Firefox
  • Windows Mobile: Internet Explorer

Google Reader:

Google Reader lets you read and star items in your feeds offline. You must specifically download them for offline use, and it will only download your 2000 most recent items. That's usually enough to let you read feeds on a short airplane ride or subway commute.

Learn More about Google Reader

Google Docs:

Google Gears lets you use Google Docs while offline, although it is fairly limited in how you can use them. You can view presentations, documents and spreadsheets offline, but you can only edit documents, and you cannot create new items at all.

This is still enough to allow you to give a presentation at a venue without a computer connection or view a spreadsheet at a hotel.

More on Google Docs - How to Create a Form

Gmail:

Google Gears can be used by Gmail to eliminate the need for a desktop email program. If you enable offline access to Gmail, it operates in three modes: online, offline, and flaky connection. Flaky connection mode is for when you have an unreliable Internet connection that might suddenly cut out.

Gmail syncs messages so that when you are offline you can still read, compose, and press the send button. The actual message delivery will occur after you are online again.

What's So Great About Gmail?

Google Calendar:

Google Gears lets you read your calendar offline, but it does not let you edit items or make new entries. It's still useful in cases where you have a flaky connection or are traveling without Internet and don't want to have to carry a paper printout of your calendar.

More on Google Calendar

Latitude:

Google Gears enables the Latitude iGoogle Gadget to detect your location from your laptop or desktop computer. You must be online for this to work, but it's an example of the way Google Gears can be used with online apps.

What Is Latitude?

When You Should Not Use Google Gears:

Google Gears downloads data to your hard drive. Don't use it on public computers.

Competition:

The main competition for Google Gears is Adobe Air, which allows developers to create Web-based applications that run outside the browser and use Flash for slick interfaces and rich interaction.

Third Party Applications That Use Google Gears:

Third party Web apps that use Google Gears include:

Google Gears is available from the Web at gears.google.com.

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