Google Gears is an open source browser extension for IE and Firefox that allows web applications to be available offline. Gears in its current state offers minimal functionality for offline applications but the idea with it being open source is that developers will quickly follow with enhancements.
Google Gears caches resource files to make them available offline. Gmail users with the Google Gears extension installed are able to read their most recent messages offline. Google Docs users can edit their documents offline without a network connection. Google Gears enabled web applications will ask your permission before storing data offline so you don’t end up storing everything under the sun.
I just installed Google Gears. I am a gmail user and once I realized this would enable me to read my email offline I was hot to trot to get it going. I’ve got it now. Sure would have helped out at the airport between flights Labor Day weekend. I have been using gmail for my personal email for a couple years now. Prior to gmail I used Eudora. I forgot about the fact that I couldn’t read my email offline with gmail until the first power outage. When I realized this I was quite relieved that my work related email addresses were coming into Outlook which I could read offline. Now it’s not an issue with gmail with Google Gears browser extension.
Google Reader is the first Google application being powered by Gears. Google Reader organizes and manages all the content you are interested in reading. It automatically gets the news from your favorite sites through their feeds. You can organize the content coming in and even share things with friends from Reader. Reader can save you a lot of time if you go to all your news and interest sites regularly to check for updates. It will update the news and other content for you and it’s all in one location organized how you want.