Adobe AIR is a runtime environment that, at its most basic, allows you to run lightweight programs on your desktop. The advantages are several ““ installing and uninstalling applications is easy, they’re simple to use, they’re standalone apps that interact with web and so on.
But the coolest thing about Adobe AIR apps is that they often add new functionality to web apps and allow you to interact with those apps just like you do with desktop programs. Adobe Air Apps often make those websites even more useful.
For media junkies like myself, this is fantastic. Watching movies gets easier, as does looking for photos and listening to music. Here are three of my favorite media-based AIR applications.
Bookmash does a little bit of everything ““ it’s got media on the Web pretty well covered. It’s basically a multi-platform search engine that lets you search through YouTube, DailyMotion and MetacafÃ© for videos, Last.fm and Seeqpod for music, and through most social networks and news sites to find what’s going on around the Web.
The social stuff is great, but the media is where Bookmash shines. The search is impressive, and everything can be watched, listened to or downloaded right from within the Bookmash interface. I wish it offered more search possibilities, but between YouTube and Last.fm, you’re pretty set for most of your media needs.
My Media Player
One of my favorite sites on the Web is Hulu (unfortunately, it’s only for the US at this point but you can learn how to access it from other countries here). It’s a fantastic portal for legally watching TV shows, movies, and clips of great shows like Saturday Night Live that have historically been unwilling to share their material on sites like YouTube.
My Media Player plugs into Hulu, and doesn’t offer playback of anything that Hulu doesn’t already. But what it does do is: make it a separate window, with no toolbars or anything like that, that appears just like any other media player and can be resized or docked to fit your needs. It makes watching Hulu videos (particularly if you’re a multi-tasker without a huge screen) a much easier proposition.
Stefan wrote about Hulu Desktop, even if it isn’t an Adobe AIR application, you should give it a whirl.
My Media Player also hooks into Twitter, which means you can tweet about what you’re watching ““ making TV and movies a lot more social.
(A bit of warning: Hulu appears to have made a change that is causing some issues with My Media Player. I’ve used it with no problem, but it sounds like some have. If it doesn’t work immediately, that’s why ““ stay tuned! I’ll find announce a workaround in the comments if I know about it)
According to all three browsers I use regularly, Flickr is the site I visit most. I use it for blog posts, wallpapers, and a whole host of other things as well. It’s a great tool, but isn’t the easiest to navigate.
zFlick makes finding and downloading images easier than ever. Search for an image, or browse through the impressively attractive interface of photos, complete with awesome transitions. Once you’ve found the photo you want, you can just drag-and-drop to download it. You can drag it straight to a number of other applications as well ““ Photoshop, AIM, and the like ““ if that’s where you’re using the photos. The more I use Flickr, the more I appreciate how simple, quick, attractive and useful zFlick is.
For a more powerful Flickr search tool, Ann Smarty has the lowdown with 16 Flickr Search Tools That Are Fun to Use.
Increasingly, I’m watching, listening, and viewing my media on Adobe AIR, using a growing number of applications. These are the three I couldn’t live without, though ““ I need my music, my zone-out videos, and the incredible resource of pictures that Flickr has become. Adobe AIR makes all of those better.
What’s your favorite AIR app? Share with us in the comments.