If you’ve wondered why there haven’t been many Gears releases or posts on the Gears blog lately, it’s because we’ve shifted our effort towards bringing all of the Gears capabilities into web standards like HTML5. We’re not there yet, but we are getting closer. In January we shipped a new version of Google Chrome that natively supports a Database API similar to the Gears database API, workers (both local and shared, equivalent to workers and cross-origin wokers in Gears), and also new APIs like Local Storage and Web Sockets. Other facets of Gears, such as the LocalServer API and Geolocation, are also represented by similar APIs in new standards and will be included in Google Chrome shortly.
We realize there is not yet a simple, comprehensive way to take your Gears-enabled application and move it (and your entire userbase) over to a standards-based approach. We will continue to support Gears until such a migration is more feasible, but this support will be necessarily constrained in scope. We will not be investing resources in active development of new features. Likewise, there are some platforms that would require a significant engineering effort to support due to large architectural changes. Specifically, we cannot support Gears in Safari on OS X Snow Leopard and later. Support for Gears in Firefox (including 3.6, which will be supported shortly) and Internet Explorer will continue.
Looking back, Gears has helped us deliver much-desired functionality, such as the ability to offer offline access in GMail, to a large number of users. Long term, we expect that as browsers support an increasing amount of this functionality natively and as users upgrade to more capable browsers, applications will make a similar migration. If you haven’t already, you will want to take a look at the latest developments in web browsers and the functionality many now provide, reach out with questions, and consider how you can use these in your web applications. Gears has taken us the first part of the way; now we’re excited to see browsers take us the rest of the way.