If you’re not familiar with Apollo, it is a cross-platform (purportedly Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux) application which will run applications developed using HTML & Ajax as well as Flex/Flash applications: a rich internet application container of sorts. It’ll also understand the PDF format and be able to open PDF documents.
The interesting challenge, I think, is whether Apollo, or something like it, could replace the web browser as the fundamental container for internet applications. (A corollary question: if it could, would that be a good thing?)
As a desktop application, the Apollo container can add access to the local file system, as well as a mature model for online/offline connectivity (for applications to function in partially connected mode). Apollo could also offer the application developer more control over the “chrome” or “skin,” which browsers have traditionally kept under user control.
However, it seems like a step backward to revert to the application container model when the web browser has been doing quite well, thank you. Installing the Flash plugin is one thing, but having in essence a flash-plugin-on-steroids that can also do HTML and Ajax starts to seem like a web browser replacement. Do we need another?
Will users find the additional functionality of Apollo apps compelling enough to run them alongside the browser?
Unfortunately the beta release is now said to be early 2007 – they used to say late 2006. So we’ll have to wait and see. (Maybe they need to open source the whole thing so we can get it on schedule – it is using WebKit already).
You can sign up to be notified when the beta is released, or get more info about Apollo at Adobe Labs.
(Kevin Lynch was also on Talk Crunch December 16 2006: Here Comes Apollo – at which point he said Apollo would run first on Windows and Mac, then they would work on Linux after Flash Player 9 was done.)