What Google Gears means for Rich Internet Applications and Apollo

Some big news today that Google is announcing an open source project called "Google Gears" which is an open source collaboration between Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and Opera that enables offline web applications in the browser. It seems very similar to the announcement that Mozilla made about the offline features in Firefox 3 and will be a huge benefit for browser applications everywhere (including those being developed in Flash).

Some big news today that Google is announcing an open source project called "Google Gears" which is an open source collaboration between Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and Opera that enables offline web applications in the browser. It seems very similar to the announcement that Mozilla made about the offline features in Firefox 3 and will be a huge benefit for browser applications everywhere (including those being developed in Flash).

I'm expecting to learn more at the Google Developer Day tomorrow, but here's how I think the gist of the announcement plays out. Google has obviously invested a lot in the browser and as it stands, the browser handles offline mode very badly (aka, not at all). Gears is going to embed a SQLite database into the browser that can then be used by applications to go offline and continue to work.

I was surprised and glad to see that Adobe and Google were working closely on this. One of the things that has been touted about Apollo were the offline capabilities and that feature has come up in a lot of the discussions about deployment. But as I've tried to emphasize (even before I joined Adobe), Apollo is a lot more than that. There is no one "right way". The browser isn't going to start delivering every application we use and the desktop isn't going to rear up again and become the platform of choice for every developer. There is a blend here between browser applications and desktop applications that we will all be finding an equilibrium for. Apollo allows web developers to deploy desktop applications using technologies they know. That doesn't mean it supplants the browser, just that it enables different kinds of applications.

The other cool thing about this announcement is the information that the Apollo team has been simultaneously working on an embedded database in Apollo. The embedded database will be a part of the public beta for Apollo that is coming soon. It sounds like Adobe and Google are working together to make sure the APIs that tie into SQLite are consistent on both platforms. That should mean developers can pretty easily go between Gears and Apollo as they see fit for different types of applications (or extensions).

It's going to be very interesting to see how all of this plays out. Whenever Google gets involved, things happen, and this is going to be a huge jolt for web developers everywhere (in a good way). In some ways, this may mean fewer applications built on Apollo, but in the long run, I think it's going to mean that we'll see more applications suited for Apollo instead of web applications being ported simply for offline capability.

A lot more technical information from Robert Scoble, TechCrunch and O'Reilly Radar. I am REALLY excited about offline Google Reader. W00t!