Gears is an open source project run by Google which allows users to take online data offline via a web browser plug-in. It can, for example, allow you to read Google Reader feed items even when your computer is not connected to the Internet, and soon it will allow you to read your Gmail messages too. Unfortunately, thus far to use it you had to be running either Microsoft’s Internet Explorer or Mozilla’s Firefox browsers. For those of us on a Mac, Firefox was the only option. Now there is another: Safari.
A Google developer posted instructions for how to install Gears for Safari in the Gears Google Group early yesterday morning, Google Operating System pointed out. It comes with a very prominent caution that this software is meant for beta testing purposes only. “This is BETA, it is not an official release, it might break your browser. Chances are it will break your browser. Please proceed with caution,” reads the first note on the post.
If you’re still feeling confident enough to test it out, head over to the page with the link to download. You will need at least Safari 3.1.1 on Tiger 10.4.11 or Leopard 10.5.3. It is also recommended that you have Gears version 0.4.16.0.
Safari is an important milestone for the Gears team as it not only marks the first browser outside of IE and Firefox to use the service, but it is also the default web browser installed on all Apple computers, which have been gaining market share. It is also the browser that runs on the iPhone. Gears is starting to be used in the mobile sphere on Mobile IE for things like geolocation.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition: Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.