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Using Google Gears to Enhance Websites

Due to a recent project I’ve been working with Google Gears extensively. It’s an extremely exciting project. Using a very basic back end Google has created a way of completely offlining a web application allowing users to work on web applications offline or with spotty internet. Of course interfacing with the database instance, content store and the entire system is via javascript instead of a back end language like php or asp. It’s really great to be able to do this especially for companies like Avon where agents could have the application on their laptop, fill it out as though they were online and then when they go back online the application syncs the data up in the background using the worker processing (background) in Google Gears.

There are also some other quite interesting uses though. For example, what if you have a server with a bunch of long static pages and images? You can use Google Gears to store static content, images, etc as well as dynamic content. If you have a site that is receiving thousands of unique visitors and tens of thousands of page views if you were to sync your content up to even a third of your users that would create a significant dent in your bandwidth usage while also increasing access speed for those users as they would be accessing the content locally.

Also an exciting feature of Google Gears is that it can be used to create desktop icons. This can be used to facilitate return visits. If you have a utility that people may use regularly, a desktop icon can remind them to use it more often. Additionally with sites that may not be regularly used, you may even be able to use this icon as a “reminder” to users to return. Say a visitor is planning a trip via your site, you can link the user to the specific itinerary with this tool allowing a user to visit their itinerary even offline pre-conversion. This could promote users returning and even purchasing via your site if there is an icon on their desktop reminding them to do so (this would even be viable with sites with a shopping cart or even returning users after an order completion). The best part is that you can change the content the user sees on the return visit, meaning that you could change the ads, action items and links.

Finally users allowing you to interact with their client via Google Gears have given you a certain amount of trust. This allows you to build a very specific profile for them. Google Gears databases, stores, etc are not removed with browser cookie removal — the more users using Google Gears on your site the more personal your site can feel. Additionally due to the trust your site gains with the user authorization it opens all kinds of doors for personalization and “user features.”

As you can see, Google Gears is a huge step forward for usability, speed, content, personalization and bandwidth optimization.