Fans of Google Gears - the advertising giant's offline caching technology - will be saddened to hear that it could be going away in the very near future, to be replicated entirely within HTML 5.

As reported over on Lifehacker, Google has official announced that the Gears team has "shifted our effort towards bringing all of the Gears capabilities into web standards like HTML 5."

With the Gears technology already integrated into the Windows release of Google's Chrome browser - and work underway to replicate the database API used by Gears - moving to HTML 5 rather than a proprietary system makes a good deal of sense: not only does it make features such as geolocation and offline caching more available to third party sites to implement, but it increases the likelihood that browsers will support the technology without the need for plugins.

The use of HTML 5 is certainly welcome for this kind of implementation, with all major browsers already pledging full support for the W3C-backed standard. Providing that Google can fully replicate the functionality of Gears within the standard HTML 5 framework - and that it doesn't become tempted to fork the standard off into a custom, Gears-enabled version that only certain browsers will support - the technology should, in theory, be open to all browsers once finalised.

With many of Google's products - including Mail, Docs, and Reader - supporting Gears or its inbuilt equivalent in Chrome to make content available for use even when no Internet connection is available, anyone who has got used to the convenience of Gears will be watching Google's progress with its replacement closely. As usual for Google, the next big leap in the technology will come to its own Chrome browser first, with third party browsers playing catch-up once the technical details of its implementation are released.

Are you a Gears user worried to see development on the platform grind to a halt while the company attempts to port it to HTML 5, or are you just pleased to see that Google is looking at ways of expanding the technology and making it easier to implement for third parties? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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