Inside the Gears of Google

So, what did Google just do with its introduction of “Gears?”

Setup its suite of office applications to go offline. Oh, and everyone else’s too.

Zojo? ConceptShare? Zimbra?

All will be able to go offline soon if their developers adopt Google’s Gears.

UPDATE: David Berlind at ZDNet has the best insight I’ve seen posted so far about Gears and has a podcast/interview with Linus Upson, director of engineering at Google

Right now I’m using my computer while not connected to the Internet. I’m typing in Windows Live Writer’s window and I’m surfing Google Reader while unconnected.

Some things that work better? Google Reader doesn’t hesitate or “stutter” every 20 posts like it does when it’s online. Some things that don’t work as well? It doesn’t download images so posts have grey boxes in them.

I just reconnected and it instantly shared all the items I had maked as shared.

Nice implementation and works simply and easily. I’ll definitely be using this on my next plane ride.

I wish it ALWAYS worked in offline mode, though. Why do I need to click a button to resubscribe? The Gears team told me this is a choice the developer will need to make.

Oh, while offline, if I reloaded my browser, or accidentally closed it, it goes back to my Reader automatically. That’s nice.

Look for more offline applications to come from Google soon. They don’t have any to announce yet, but said they are working on their Docs and Spreadsheets.

What really just happened? The Web got a little further away from Microsoft’s platforms and Google revealed a little more about its platform dreams.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to developing an app using Gears?

Google brings developers offline with “Gears”; new offline Reader

Right now in Sydney, Australia, the first of 10 Google Developer days are starting up and the audience there is hearing about several new initiatives. The most important of which is “Google Gears,” an open source project that will bring offline capabilities to Web Applications — aimed at developers. More on that in a second.

Also being announced today (and tomorrow here in San Jose) at Google’s Developer Day:

1. A new version of Google Reader (shipping this afternoon) that is built with Gears that will enable that reader to work offline. To make use of the new offline capabilities you’ll need to load the Google Gears plugin first (also available now).
2. A new mashup editor that is aimed at developers familiar with HTML and JavaScript. The Google Mashup Editor offers a simpler way to deploy AJAX user interface components atop existing feeds and Google Web Services. This competes pretty headon with Microsoft’s PopFly that was shipped about a week ago. Unfortunately this is going to be a limited beta, so you’ll have to sign up for it and wait.
3. Google Web Toolkit has passed a million users and they just shipped a new version of that.

Regarding Gears. It works on Macs, Windows, Linux on IE, Firefox, Opera. Enables versioned offline storage. Extension to HTML/JavaScript. UPDATE: Opera support isn’t finished yet and Safari support is coming “later.”

They are showing me a demo of the new Google Reader using the new Gears plugin. After you load the Gears plugin you get a new icon at the top of your Reader window which enables offline capabilities of Google Reader. They showed how Google Reader then downloaded 2,000 feed items. They took the browser offline and it continued to work great.

Codename of Gears was “Scour.” The team made fun of their code name saying that the world had “Ajax” and now it needed to “Scour.”

Gears is a 700kb install. Gears consists of three modules that developers can talk to via an API (details will online at the site). The three modules consist of:

1. A Local server. An object that your app can talk to and get stuff (images, JS files, HTML, etc). Atomic updates.
2. A data store. SQL light. You can talk to that via SQL. It’s like a cookie on steroids that you can talk to via SQL so developers can store data offline and talk to that store.
3. A worker pool that’s designed for background tasks. Keeps track of offline and online and helps sync and keep your apps “snappy” no matter what state your connection is in.
What won’t Gears be good for? Something like Google Search. Why? Because that assumes you want to search all the items on the Web. It’s better for Web developers who are building apps that have a specific amount of data to interact with.

Gears supports using Adobe’s Apollo and Flash and should support other technologies including Microsoft’s Silverlight.

Gears will be submitted to a standards organization eventually, they said, but want to make sure the technology is rock solid first.

More on this from TechCrunch’s Nick Gonzalez, and from Artur Bergman on O’Reilly’s Radar site who are sitting a few feet from me.

The detail in this post came from Google’s Vice President of Engineering, Jeff Huber, among other people from Google in the room — I’ll try to get more names shortly.

Exciting speech to text cell phone demo

I can’t wait until our cell phones can do this.

Is this a smoke and mirrors demo? Or something that’ll get delivered this year? I met these two guys at the Charles River Ventures partner meeting. They’ve been funded to build this system.

This is the first public demo of the system they call Mobeus (they say the name will change by the time they ship).

It’s good to see that there’s lots of innovation left in the cell phone space. What do you think? Do you want your cell phone to do this?

[podtech content=]

Fortune: AppleTV is a dud — Apple smacks back with YouTube videos

Fortune Magazine says that AppleTV is a dud.

Apple hits back and says they are bringing YouTube to Apple TV.

UPDATE: Engadget’s Ryan Block covers Steve Jobs’ announcement at the D Conference. Jobs says that Apple TV is “a hobby.” But says lots of other things too.

How did Fortune disparage it? By calling it “Zune like.” Ouch!

Personally Fortune is right, but doesn’t quite expose the elephant standing in the middle of the room.

The elephant in the room? Simple: Apple could have really taken over the HDTV world and held it for decades. Instead it has left the door open to its competitors.

Microsoft loves competitors like Apple who leave doors open.

What am I talking about?

Do we have a wide-screen iPod yet? One that matches the form factor of my 60-inch HDTV? No. Microsoft executives say that a wide-screen, 16:9 form factor, Zune is on the way this fall.

Do we have a 16:9 1080-full-res MacBookPro out yet? No. Dell has one. So does Acer. Just look for an WUXGA screen. But Apple hasn’t shipped one of those yet in a laptop.

Do we have HDTV iTunes yet? No. But is giving us HDTV Lost. has tons of close-to-HDTV content. Joost is going to bring us close-to-HDTV content. Where’s Apple?

Do we have an entertainment system that joins our computers and our big screens? Microsoft has Media Center and Xbox. Plus Xbox Live now joins gamers on PCs with those on Xbox. Why hasn’t Apple made a deal with Sony yet to bring PlayStation 3 to MacBookPros?

But, actually, the AppleTV +is+ going in the right direction. Apple should take over the HDTV market. The fact that it’s not is emboldening its competitors. It’s just that AppleTV’s reliance on HDTV, without having the other parts of the ecosystem in place, is exposing Apple’s weakness in dealing with HDTV.

That said, I love my AppleTV. If you actually get some high resolution stuff into iTunes it works really well. I watch tons of stuff on my AppleTV. It’s just that folks who have a big HDTV screen expect a lot more than Apple’s delivering currently.

BoingBoing reader demonstrates misunderstanding of privacy

A BoingBoing reader is worried that Google is infringing on his privacy by taking pictures of his cat in a window in his house. In the United States, if you can see something from a public street you are allowed to take pictures of it. A lot of people don’t understand privacy law. I had one guy tell me once that he could keep me from taking pictures of him (he was in a public street). Now, I don’t recommend arguing with people, but he’s wrong.

If we’re going to protect our privacy, we need to understand where current law already is and where we need to write new laws. This isn’t one of them.

For more, look at the reactions of bloggers on TechMeme. “Creepy” says one headline. CNet asks for more examples of such “spying.” No, sorry, it’s not spying and it’s not creepy. If you can see it from a public street it’s not private and you should not expect ANY privacy.

These reactions demonstrate we need to have a new discussion of privacy in the industry, though. First we need to understand what privacy is and when we should expect it, and when we should be worried about infringements. We also need to understand the technology used here. One blogger seemed to think that this data is taken off of live cameras. It is not. It’s taken off of a truck driving around.

Hint: if you can see it from a public street it is NOT “private.” This is journalism law 101 folks. Geesh.