Adobe AIR, a downloadable platform for running web-friendly apps on any operating system, is still pretty fresh on the market, but it already has a healthy number of applications in development or near completion. While many of them are simply desktop translations of web interfaces that were easy to use already, a handful of AIR apps truly make work and play easier, or just more interesting. Let's take a look at 10 applications that make it worth the effort of downloading and installing Adobe AIR.
Note: Not every AIR app we've tested works nicely with the Linux alpha of AIR, so we've noted where at least one Linux system (Ubuntu 8.04) had problems running the app.
(Windows/Mac only) The officially sanctioned desktop client for Pandora has awkwardly-placed ads and not a lot more features than the web client. Avoid a permanently-open tab and get right-click access to your favourite streams and artists with the Pandora desktop AIR client.
For eBay deal hunters, the eBay Desktop is a time- and frustration-saving interface to the auction site's search and purchase functions. Sellers have extremely limited functionality at the moment, something the official eBay developers are working on, but buyers get real-time auction prices and time-remaining counts, can click item-by-item on a search results page like a feed reader, and quickly flip through item photos. No refreshing at all, which for quick-trigger buying can make a serious difference.
Hardcore readers of important feeds won't flock to the Snackr news feed ticker, but anyone who wants a passive scroll of hit-or-miss RSS feeds might just love it. You can dock or hide the ticker-tape-like scroll at your screen's edges, import OPML files from your reader of choice, and customise what's shown. (Original post).
(Windows/Mac only) Like Digg itself, the DiggTop app is really just an efficient means of procrastinating with popular web links. But DiggTop lets you filter by, and get alerts for, certain key words that show up on the social bookmarking site, and also grabs embedded videos and pictures in the links you hover over for convenient previews.
Don't let its unfortunate name deter you from giving the elegantly simple to-do list app Doomi a try. Add tasks by simply typing and hitting Enter. Deadlines and seeing completed tasks are optional features. The app can sit in the background as a list, or roll up into a little bar. That's all most people really need, but the author is looking to add custom colour schemes and drag/drop reorganization to make it just a bit more convenient.
The Twhirl full-featured Twitter client adds enough features and convenience to the mini-messaging social network that it almost starts to seem, well, productive. Quickly browse your followers and those you're following, direct message and reply with ease, get specific message alerts, and treat tweets like feed items with a "Mark all as seen" button. If you're going to use Twitter during your workday, you might as well make it quick and simple.
There are lots of web sites that claim to make project and time tracking easy for freelancers and by-the-minute workers, but Klok really delivers intuitive tracking to the desktop. Set up your own project aspects or use a template like "Web" or "Writing," then time your work by hitting the "Work On ..." button. The best part may be the graphs, charts, and reports produced by the little app, which are commonly restricted on "free" tracking sites. (Original post).
Ok, so there's nothing in DestroyFlickr's interface for the photo-sharing site that you can't do on Flickr's web page—it just won't look as pretty, or move so quickly. DestroyFlickr (the name comes from a mind hack concept, not vengeance) shuttles quickly around Flickr streams, making downloads and uploads drag-and-drop "affAIRs," and offering quick editing, commenting, and re-organisation. The Darkroom-inspired black background focuses attention, and multi-account users can work in all their streams at once using workspaces. In other words, it's simple for casual Flickr fans, but strong enough for power users.
(Windows/Mac only) There's a lot to like about Google Reader's features, but some folks can't quite get used to reading their RSS in a browser (or just don't dig the blue-on-white template itself). ReadAir, a Mac-styled desktop app, gives you the best of both worlds, putting your GReader material into a three-paned browser. They've added the j/k keyboard shortcuts that Adam lamented in his original post, and next up are custom themes for XP/Vista.
If you own a piece of web real estate, Google Analytics is, as Gina pointed out, a seriously useful tracking tool. The Analytics Reporting Suite puts all the great data tools offered up free by Google into an easy-to-navigate, all-in-one container. Move fluidly from unique visits to pageviews, escape the wait for new data page s to load, and quickly filter data for specific time spans. This kind of interface-improving app is precisely what Adobe AIR was built for.
Which AIR apps are worth the spot on your own desktop? What apps are you still waiting to see before committing to a download? Let's hear both sides in the comments.