Google has released the first mobile version of its Google Gears web browser plug-in which enables the use of rich mobile applications online and offline.
Google Gears enables offline access to web applications by allowing them to cache data on the device through a SQLite-based database engine that periodically synchronises with the service when connected to the internet.
The initial version of Google Gears for mobile is intended for use with Internet Explorer Mobile on Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices.
Google said that this mobile version is a port of the desktop version of Google Gears v0.2.
The plug-in enables developers of mobile applications to create software for deployment on mobile browsers rather than the phone itself, which adds a number of compatibility issues to the mix.
Google claimed that there are already a handful of web apps that use Google Gears for mobile, such as personal finance service Buxfer and online applications provider Zoho.
Google is also working on brining Gears for mobile to Android and other mobile platforms with web browsers.
Analysts have praised the release, saying that, along with similar platforms released by other mobile developers, it heralds a new era for rich mobile applications.
"Amid last week's fanfare surrounding the launch of Microsoft's multimedia-centric Silverlight RMA platform for Nokia's mobile device platforms and its own Windows Mobile, Google Gears mobile slipped out rather quietly," said Tony Cripps, senior analyst at Ovum.
"Together they demonstrate many of the important features of rich mobile applications, namely graphically rich presentation, lightweight programming models and disconnected working.
The growing installed base for these technologies on mobile devices will make them obvious targets for future RMAs, whether launched by media companies, webcos, enterprises or operators, according to Cripps.
This will increasingly be at the expense of proprietary client technologies, such as those offered by so-called on-device portal vendors.
"The launch of the first version of Google Gears for mobile may have been low key but it is another important foundation stone in bringing the web and mobile closer together," said the analyst.
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