Google will end Gears, an open source plug-in project it launched two years ago to allow Web applications to function even when a computer isn't connected to the Internet, according to a statement from the company.
Google said that many of the features it has wrapped into Gears are now being incorporated into HTML5, the latest specification for the Web's mother coding tongue. But the development of HTML5 is likely not to be completed until 2011 or 2012.
[ Paul Krill explores whether HTML5 could kill Flash and Silverlight. | HTML5 won't be ready until 2011 or later; learn what's holding it up. | Keep up with app dev issues and trends with InfoWorld's Fatal Exception and Strategic Developer blogs. ]
Gears was part of Google's vision to make online Web applications behave more like desktop ones. The idea is that a Web application could be used absent an Internet connection and then sync its data when the PC comes online again.
Components of Gears included a local server and database. Applications that used Gears include Google's Docs and Reader as well as Zoho's online office productivity suite.
However, new incompatibilities with Gears have cropped up. Although it works with Microsoft's Windows, Linux and some Apple Mac OS X versions, it doesn't work with Mac OS X 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard.
Google said it will continue to support Gears so sites that use it don't break. "But we expect developers to use HTML5 for these features moving forward as it's a standards-based approach that will be available across all browsers," the company said.
HTML5 is a work in progress by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The specification may reach the "candidate recommendation" stage at the W3C by 2012, according to the WHATWG's wiki.