Google's mission: Extend the browser

Google Gears launched a year ago and the search giant is ditching its moniker to reinforce that Gears is an open source project. So far so good, MySpace has used Gears to launch search and sort mail messages.

Google Gears launched a year ago and the search giant is ditching its moniker to reinforce that Gears is an open source project. So far so good, MySpace has used Gears to launch search and sort mail messages. The overall theme: Google is trying to extend the browser.

The bevy of announcements coming out of Google's I/O developer conference are beginning to pile up, but the overall theme is clear: Extend that browser folks. Gears is among the headliners as it increasingly becomes a key way to deliver online applications offline.

In a blog post, Google software engineer Chris Prince said outlined a few plans for Gears:

On the applications front, there have been a number of exciting developments. Today, MySpace is launching enhanced functionality for MySpace mail using Gears. They are using the original Gears Database API with Full Text Search to enable fast and easy search and sort capabilities. The latest build of WordPress also integrates Gears, to improve performance, and to let users manage their blogs offline. And as many of you know, the Google Docs team added offline capabilities just a few weeks ago.

As for the MySpace use of Gears, MySpace noted in a statement that its use of Gears is "the largest third party implementation."

MySpace noted that Gears is allowing the social media site to save server side processing. Not surprisingly, MySpace noted that it is pushing Gears on mail happy users:

With an average of 170 million mail messages sent a day from MySpace mail, Gears empowers users with large inboxes and huge numbers of friends to search and sort their mail quickly. Rather than clicking through page after page to find a specific message, users can now type in any keywords related to the message (sender name, subject, content, dates, etc.) and the results show up in real time, as the user types.

For those users with more than 5,000 mail messages, MySpace is proactively prompting the community to opt-in to the new feature by clicking to download Gears from MySpace.

With MySpace's Gears proof of concept delivering a little ROI you can expect more to get on the bandwagon.

Along that extending the browser theme, Google also announced that Google Earth is coming to the browser. Now Google Earth is a plug-in that can be embedded on your Web site. See Garett Rogers' take.

In a blog post, Google said:

The new Google Earth Browser Plug-in, which brings the full power of Google Earth to the web, embeddable within your own web site. Driven by an extensive JavaScript API, you can control the camera; create lines, markers, and polygons; import 3D models from the web and overlay them anywhere on the planet. In fact, you can even overlay your content over different planets, stars, and galaxies by toggling Sky mode, letting you build 3D Google Sky mashups. You can also enable 3D buildings with a single line of JavaScript, attach JavaScript callbacks to mouse events, fetch KML data from the web, and more. Our goal is to open up the entire core of Google Earth to developers in the hopes that you'll build the next great geo-based 3D application.

Is there ROI in those Google Earth hills? Probably not, but it's still pretty neat.

Among other items worth noting:

Google App Engine announced pricing plans. The pricing details are:

  • Free quota to get started: 500MB storage and enough CPU and bandwidth for about 5 million pageviews per month
  • $0.10 - $0.12 per CPU core-hour
  • $0.15 - $0.18 per GB-month of storage
  • $0.11 - $0.13 per GB outgoing bandwidth
  • $0.09 - $0.11 per GB incoming bandwidth

For now, Google Apps Engine is free, but the pricing plans will kick in "later this year" for additional computing power. For now, preview release apps are limited to the free storage plan.

Google released Web Toolkit Release Candidate 1.5. The big takeaway is that it will support Java 5.

Also see:


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