The Internet Offline With Google Gears

I find myself posting more about websites and industry news, but hey, it’s an interesting and fast changing time in the tech world.

The future of the Internet isn’t online. It’s offline. As news of Firefox 3 and promises of offline web applications start to heat up, Google is again ahead of the pack with their initial offline offering: Google Gears and a new iteration of Google Reader.

Google Gears is an add on to Firefox or Internet Explorer that allows compatible web applications to work when you don’t have an internet connection. For Google Reader, it allows you to download 2,000 of the most recent feeds for offline viewing. I imported my OPML from Netvibes just to try it out. One click of a button and it downloaded 2,000 posts/entries in under 15 seconds. Click the same button when you have connectivity and it will sync what you’ve read with any new content. Downloading feeds to go offline was pretty fast, but it excluded any pictures embedded in any of the posts. While this is more efficient, it prevents Google Reader from being “fully functional” when offline. This makes it hard to enjoy visual dependent posts such as the one below from the Flickr Blog.

ReaderScreenshot2

Especially when compared to the online view.

ReaderScreenshot3

Although it is easier and easier to get online with free wireless hotspots all over the place, there are times when no connection is available (on an airplane springs to mind). And if you’re like me, you wish the internet could be everywhere, all the time. This is a nice start, but I don’t use Google Reader. Expect to see offline functionality soon for Google’s proposed MS Office killer.

The number one site that I wish could be available offline, because it is my key to the Internet, is Netvibes (Check out this post to see why I like Netvibes so much). BUT, Netvibes currently only works online. The question is: Is all this development for offline functionality frivolous when everyone and their Grandma will have wireless in every nook and cranny possible in a few years?

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