Commentary
2/26/2009
01:40 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

Opera Brings Gears Support To Mobile Browser

Google Gears is a great tool to have if you need to access certain Google or other Web services and there's no Internet connection available. Opera has extended the ability to use Gears to its Opera Mobile 9.5 browser, bringing new potential to the offline powers of mobile phones.



Google Gears is a great tool to have if you need to access certain Google or other Web services and there's no Internet connection available. Opera has extended the ability to use Gears to its Opera Mobile 9.5 browser, bringing new potential to the offline powers of mobile phones.The simple truth is, cellular networks aren't always available. Cell signals don't penetrate every building, nor have they been built to cover every square inch of the world. And, to-date, we're still not really able to use cell phones on airplanes. This is why phones have "airplane mode" built in, so they can still operate, only with the cellular radio turned off. The lack of access can prevent people from doing most of the things for which phones were designed. Opera has crafted a partial solution.

It is making Opera Mobile 9.5 available as a technology preview, and it supports Google's Gears. Opera's Andreas Bovens writes, "The use cases for Gears differ somewhat between mobile and desktop devices. On mobile, Gears is perfect for creating a better user experience by allowing applications to cache data more efficiently, so you can cut down on bandwidth, and carry out processes discreetly in the background."

Developers can use Gears to permit offline access to their Web sites, for starters. This can be accomplished with a number of the APIs in Gears, and can let users interact with the mobile Web (with limitations) when offline.

Bovens also explains how Gears can help to solve a number of the problems developers face when crafting mobile Web sites and applications. "You can ease the strain on your processor by splitting up JavaScript calculations into separate worker threads, which are background processes defined by Gears that can perform tasks on behalf of the browser," he said. "You can make applications more responsive by downloading data and code onto your device and allowing much of your application's functionality to run offline. On top of this, you can also use Gears to create application shortcuts for your web applications that will be visible in the file system."

This all sounds very promising, but it will be up to developers to make it happen. The "technology preview" being offered by Opera is by no means a final product. Some of its success will hinge on the desire of developers to create offline access to Web sites and services.

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