I’ve been hearing about Google Gears for awhile now and decided to give it a test drive with my new favorite web application, Google Reader. Basically, Google Gears is a framework for using web applications offline by providing a storage system (seems to be an SQLite database) which is integrated into the web browser. Installation was as simple as installing a Firefox extension (because it’s actually packaged as an extension). Then, web apps which support GG integration have an option to go to “offline mode”. When using Google Reader, it goes ahead to populate the local cache with those headlines available at the time of mode change. Then, you can read the stories in the absence of an internet connection. Later, when you have regained connectivity, switching to online mode causes GG to re-sync everything (such as which headlines you read or which links you did something interesting with) bringing you back into step with the web. I conducted a trial use of GG with reader to allow me to read my favorite news items and articles during my plane ride back to school earlier this week. It worked wonderfully and I have only one criticism of it. When going offline, Google Reader has to download a fairly huge amount of stories (often above 1500 items) and it takes forever. Other than that, I really liked having the functionality available to me. I advise people to try both Google Reader and it’s integration with Google Gears because it’s really a winning combination. You can give it a spin for yourself by going to the Google Reader site and signing in with your Google account. Let’s face it, everyone should be using GMail unless you are super-happy with your current email setup for some reason (like running your own server or having a serious love affair with some one-of-a-kind feature). Now, I just wish that more apps would use GG or have equivalent functionality…cough, GMail, Google Calendar and Wordpress, cough.