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MySpace picks Google's Gears to spruce up site

MySpace now uses Google's Gears project to beef up Web browser abilities. Gears support for for Safari, Opera, and Firefox 3 is en route.

SAN FRANCISCO--MySpace said it's using Google's Gears, software for augmenting Web browser abilities, to make the social-networking site easier to use.

When MySpace users go to their mailbox, they'll be invited to install Google Gears, said Allen Hurff, MySpace's senior vice president of engineering, in an appearance here Wednesday at the Google I/O conference. "It's available to everyone today," Hurff said.

Allen Hurff, MySpace's senior vice president of engineering, speaking at Google I/O
Allen Hurff, MySpace's senior vice president of engineering, speaks at Google I/O. Stephen Shankland/CNET

When users install Gears, they'll be able to quickly search their in-boxes for specific terms or sort messages, for example to show unread mail, Hurff said.

Gears, an open-source plug-in, endows browsers with a number of useful features to make them a better foundation for running elaborate software. Gears hasn't caught on widely, but MySpace gives the project more clout. And Google thinks some of Gears' success is actually measured in its influence over the new HTML 5 standard for describing Web pages.

In MySpace's case, one useful Gears feature is local storage on a computer. Another is the ability to run multiple threads at the same time--in effect, to walk and chew gum at the same time. For MySpace, that includes letting a computer index text at the same time it draws user-interface elements on the browser screen, Hurff said.

On Wednesday, Google announced it's changing the project's name from Google Gears to just Gears.

"We want to make it clear that Gears isn't just a Google thing," said Chris Prince, a Google software engineer, in a blog posting. "We see Gears as a way for everyone to get involved with upgrading the Web platform."

Google also announced that it's expanding browser support for Gears.

"We are currently adding Firefox 3 and Safari support. And Opera is working to support Gears on both desktop and mobile," Prince said.