Google is bringing offline apps to mobile phones – and this has nothing to do with Android.
Google Gears, which allows developers to create apps that run on Firefox and Internet Explorer when offline, is supposed to launch later today under the name Google Gears for mobile. (Information for developers is already available here). It will support only Pocket IE running on Windows Mobile devices to start (Windows Mobile 5 and 6), but will expand to other mobile browsers eventually. (Presumably, that includes Safari on the iPhone and Opera Mobile).
At launch, several partners, including Zoho and Buxfer, will introduce mobile apps that can run on Pocket IE even when not connected to the network. Zoho Writer (which first went offline with Google Gears in August) will now be available for Windows Mobile 6, and it will have an offline capability as well thanks to Google Gears. (Here is a video demo). The offline mobile version is a read-only version. Zoho Writer already has a mobile online version for the iPhone, and was the first word processor to go offline with the desktop version of Google Gears.
Google itself has yet to offer a Google Gears version of Google Docs. But we understand that it’s coming soon, as are offline desktop versions of Gmail and Google Calendar.
This announcement also means that it’s game time for Adobe and Microsoft. They either need to come out with mobile versions of AIR and Silverlight or risk being left in the dust. Update: That was fast. Silverlight countermoves with a mobile version for Nokia phones.
Update: Google Mobile post here, Google Gears API post here. And here’s a video: