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Google Gears is an open- source and freeware tool developed by Google in June, 2007. This tool can be installed as an extension on a web browser and facilitates the users to make use of Web- based online applications even when they are not connected to the internet i.e. users can access online applications offline. It is an important point to note that not every web application can be accessed offline through Google Gears. But applications need to be specially designed in this manner that they facilitate access by Google Gears.
Since Google Gears is open- source, its code is easily available and the developers can use or change it to meet their requirements. Also this tool is a freeware and needs no fees. It can be easily downloaded from gears.google.com.
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Web Apps That Use Google Gears
Most of the web applications designed by Google allow offline access by Google Gears. Although offline access is highly beneficial in many situations where the internet connection is not available or it is unreliable (a flaky connection) but this offline access has certain limitations. All the features provided by a web application can’t be provided offline. Following are some of the Google web applications which are programmed to use Google Gears:
As discussed earlier, Google Gears provides some limited functionalities for online web apps offline i.e. without internet connection. In case of Gmail, which is an online email exchange programme, Google Gears can be used with it and it synchronizes the email messages. When the user is offline and he/ she opens the Gmail application in the browser, he can read his email messages. You can also compose a new message and even press the ‘Send’ button. It seems to the user that the message is sent but in fact the message is put in the pending state and it is delivered when the user comes online again.
Google Docs is an online web application that allows real- time sharing of documents among users who are actually situated at distant locations. The leader of a group can create a new document which is placed at the server and he/ she can then make a list of users (known by their email addresses) who are allowed to read and edit the document simultaneously and in a real- time environment.
Google Gears when used with Google Docs, provides very limited usage. The members of the group can view the documents offline but editing or creating new documents is not possible.
Google Calender can also be used with Google Gears but with some limitations. Google Gears allows the users to read the whole calendar, browse through it offline but it doesn’t let a user to amend the entries or make new ones.
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Google Gears download all the data that it needs to your hard drive. Therefore, it is not advisable to use it on public computers or in internet cafés.