Swift browser tricks
The major device platform vendors have added a variety of different enhancements to their browsers that let you tap into some but not all of the features of the handset. Many of these additions are a bit ad hoc, but they're still quite powerful. Apple's iPhone, for instance, watches for calls to the domain maps.google.com, then redirects you to the native Maps application outside of the browser. You can integrate your application with the native Maps application just by limiting your URL to the right standard format.
This direction will make the handset more a stand-alone machine and less of a dumb client, something that is mainly practical.
"It's the unfortunate reality of mobile coverage today. You have to provide good service out of coverage," explains Kirkup. "We're going to be supporting Gears and SQLite, and the ability for Web applications to persist information offline."
This twist could make it easier to build lighter applications that put less stress on the wireless networks. The handset can store much of the working data locally and send copies to the server farm only occasionally. It's not exactly a typical client-server model but a hybrid that crosses the freedom of the stand-alone desktop with some of the deployment simplicity of the client-server model.
Dan Morrill, an Android developer advocate at Google, says that the Gears toolkit is just a start. The code is just a stepping stone to the features that are emerging in the HTML5 standard.