Adobe Renames Apollo, Pushes Rich Internet Apps

Adobe re-branded its Apollo multimedia technology that lets Internet applications run outside a browser as the Adobe Integrated Runtime and released it into beta with new features.
The battle to dominate interactive, graphical Internet application platforms just got kicked up a notch. Adobe Monday announced it has re-branded its Apollo multimedia technology that lets Internet applications run outside a browser as the Adobe Integrated Runtime, or Air, and released it into beta with new features along with the first beta of Flex 3.0, Adobe's development framework for Flash and now Air.

The new Air beta is a significant improvement over the alpha version of Apollo released earlier this year. For example, Air now allows single apps to use multiple windows at once, supports full HTML and PDF (but not unless a user already has Adobe Reader 8.1) as an addition to already-announced JavaScript and Flash support, includes extensions for Adobe authoring tools, and allows apps to be see-through (much like the transparency available in Windows Vista).

One feature included in Air's beta release is evidence that Google and Adobe are teaming up on rich Internet applications, despite Google's new, related Gears technology that gives Internet apps online-offline capability. Collectively, the love-in all adds up to a series of shots across Microsoft's bow and a push to make rich Internet apps more pervasive.

Adobe has worked with Google to include SQLite, an open source database system, into Air. That could enable, for example, a CRM app with online-offline capabilities like synching, since a customer database could be hosted offline in the app itself. The week before last, Google announced it had teamed up with Adobe, among others, to propel Gears, with the API being made available in Air. And Adobe already distributes Google Toolbar with its Shockwave Player.

"We want to work together on all these rich Internet application technologies and create the RIA platform of the future," Mike Downey, Adobe's group manager of evangelism for platform technology, said in an interview about Adobe's relationship with Google. Adobe and Google aren't alone in this market, which also includes Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in and Windows Presentation Foundation along with Sun's new JavaFX, a language and set of tools to create rich Internet applications, and stalwarts like Ajax and Adobe's own Flash.

Adobe's vision for rich Internet applications also includes a development framework, Flex. The company Monday also released the first public beta of Flex 3.0, less than a year after the release of Flex 2.0. The new version will include components to develop applications for and port browser-based apps to AIR, enhanced design and creativity features, and better tools to help applications work with data. Both Air and Flex 3.0 are due by the end of the year.