Google recently (in last two weeks or so) announced the beta release of Gears. In previous post, I discussed some of the issues with replacing desktop applications with server-based solutions such as those offered by Google (such as gmail and docs). One of the key problems was the requirement that users have network access. Gears intends to be a solution to this problem.
The basic idea of Gears is that it in effect provides a local server that the client application can interact with when an internet connection is not available. Upon installing Gears, you get a thin web server, an SQLite installation and something referred to as a WorkerPool (which enables threading for faster application response). Theres is also a good overview of the architectural considerations when looking to bring web applications offline and still maintain coherency with the server.
Google Gears doesn’t work with any web application, just those that target the Google Gears environment. Since Gears has an API, you can create your own Gears enabled web application. Check out the tutorial if you want to kick the tires.
I haven’t tried Googe Gears – as a user or developer – yet but plan to sometime this summer. If you have tried Gears, I would be interested in hearing about your experiences.