Google Gears Patent Application: Bringing Online Applications Offline

A patent application for Google Gears has recently been published at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Google released Google Gears in May of 2007, to enable offline use of online applications. Gears is a browser plugin aimed at enabling people to use web based applications even when they aren’t connected to the internet. Imagine being able to write or edit emails or review RSS feeds or use a word processing program that was written to be used on the Web and use those programs offline, when you can’t be connected to the internet.

The Google Gears plugin has been released as an open source project by Google, and can be used with Google applications such as Google Reader and with Google Docs. It can also be used with applications from non-Google sites, such as Zoho Writer and Remember the Milk. There is also a special version of Google Gears for Mobile Web use.

The Google Gears API pages provide details on how Google Gears can be used to by other applications to bring offline usage for online applications.

Google’s browser, Chrome, has Google Gears built into it.

Some recent speculation about Google Gears and how it might be used in the future is circulating on the Web:

If you’ve looked deeply into how Google Gears works, the technical aspects described in the patent filing might not come as a surprise, but you may find them worth a look. If you haven’t been paying much attention to Google Gears, it might be time to start considering how it might help shape the future of computing.

The patent application is at:

Method and apparatus that enables a web-based client-server application to be used offline
Invented by Erik V. Arvidsson and Andrew J. Palay
US Patent Application 20080301221
Published December 4, 2008
Filed: May 30, 2007

Abstract

One embodiment of the present invention provides a system that facilitates using a web-based client-server application offline.

During operation, the system receives a function call at an object within a browser that is executing on a client, wherein the function call is generated by the web-based client-server application and is directed to a communication layer on the client.

Next, the system determines an intended resource for the function call. The system also determines if the function call should be redirected to an alternate resource. If so, the system redirects the function call to the alternate resource. If not, the system forwards the function call to the intended resource.

Note that in some embodiments of the present invention, the entire system operates within the context of the browser.

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9 thoughts on “Google Gears Patent Application: Bringing Online Applications Offline”

  1. Hi People Finder,

    I think you’re not alone. I’m not sure how many people have heard of Google Gears, though it might not be surprising if they haven’t. :)

    Its usefulness is enabling you to do other things offline, like work with a Google Doc or spreadsheet, or view the feeds in Google Reader, or a few non-Google applications. So by itself, it may not have garnered a lot of attention.

    It could be considered a small, but very essential, part of a web-based operating system.

  2. This could be a truly revolutionary idea. I suppose it can be likened somewhat to when you send a text message on your mobile phone and it doesn’t actually get sent until you’ve got signal?

  3. Hi Charlie,

    I think that is a good example. Having the applications that you work with work smarter is nice.

    One of the major concerns many might have about using web-based applications would be that you can’t use the program when you can’t be connected to the Web. Google Gears makes that possible.

  4. I have a Google Android G1 phone. It would be interesting to see Gears implemented into the next update for the G1 (I read that they’re releasing a major update early 2009).

  5. Soo a follow up! .. I just found that I posted here some time ago, turns out they did release gears with that update.

  6. Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for your follow-up. I haven’t been keeping up on Android too closely, but I have noticed that it’s starting to see some serious growth lately. Might be time to dig deeper.

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