Banish Your Browser With Innovative Adobe AIR Apps

These 11 cross-platform apps based on AIR technology will help you streamline your YouTube experience, track client time accurately, stitch photos into one panoramic shot, and much more.

Top 11 Adobe AIR Apps

Adobe AIR adds support for hundreds of cool, cross-platform apps. And it no longer matters whether you're using a Mac, a Windows PC, a Linux machine, or a mobile device--AIR works with them all.

But, despite AIR's impressive ability to blur the line between your desktop and the Web, AIR apps are by no means Web-only. In fact, some of them have nothing to do with the Web at all.

In this slideshow, we take a gander at 11 of the coolest Adobe AIR apps around, an elite collection made all the more admirable by the apps' price, which is free.

To get started using any AIR application, simply download and install AIR from Adobe. Once you've done that, downloading and opening an AIR app on your desktop will trigger the standard AIR installer--think of these files as traditional .msi or .exe setup applications, except that AIR handles the installation.

To make finding links to the downloads mentioned in this story more convenient, we've assembled a complete collection of the AIR app download links for this slide show on a single page.

Let's begin our AIR app tour with DeskTube, which makes YouTube a much more pleasant place to visit. Just click slide 2.

DeskTube: Very Cool Desktop YouTube App

YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet anyway, but DeskTube brings the fun of browsing YouTube directly to your desktop. Though DeskTube offers little more functionality than you'd get from YouTube by default, much of the app's appeal lies in what it doesn't include--like flashing advertisements and inane comments.

Aside from scrubbing off a lot of YouTube's dross, DeskTube provides Twitter integration, upload tools, and more.

Next: DestroyFlickr--A better Flickr experience

DestroyFlickr: Supercharge Your Flickr Photo Browser Experience

DestroyFlickr provides a slick, attractive interface for browsing and searching the popular photo-sharing Web site Flickr. DestroyFlickr is a bold name, but the functionality and feel of this impressive application live up to the hype. Rather than trying to mimic Flickr on your desktop, DestroyFlickr makes the image look as good as it can, removing it from the bright glare of the Flickr homepage and parking it in front of a muted, dark gray background.

With nice animations, attractive design, and integrated tools for editing your Flickr photos from your desktop, DestroyFlickr supercharges the Flickr experience.

Incidentally, if you like looking at Flickr photos, you should read "Fantastic Flickr Photographers."

Next: CleVR Stitcher--join many digital photos into one panoramic image

CleVR Stitcher: Sew Photos Together Into One Panoramic Shot

The bad news: Few of us can afford a camera capable of pulling off beautiful wide-angle shots that capture awe-inspiring landscapes. The good news: With CleVR Stitcher on your side, you can join any number of pictures together to create the majestic panorama you're looking for.

To use CleVR to create a single panoramic photo, first snap several pictures of the scene with a little overlap between each picture. Then load the pictures onto your computer, fire up CleVR, and use the app's simple stitching tool to assemble your masterpiece.

Next: TweetDeck--all Twitter tweets in one place

TweetDeck: All Tweets in One Place

You've no doubt heard of Twitter, the popular microblogging service used by everyone from Barack Obama to Shaquille O'Neal, but if you're still posting to and reading Twitter through the service's vanilla Web interface, you're not getting the optimal experience. TweetDeck, which we previously named as one of "PC World's 101 Undiscovered Freebies," puts the navel-gazing fun of Twitter on your desktop. This AIR app was a big hit at March's South by Southwest 2009 festival and now probably rates as the most popular Twitter client.

Next: eBay Desktop--become a power shopper

eBay Desktop: Power Help for Auction Shoppers

A severe global economic downturn is all the more reason to frequent the popular auction site eBay--so you can save a little cash when you shop. And the eBay Desktop application outshines the Web site by a mile.

If you're tracking an auction as a buyer, for example, eBay Desktop offers real-time listing information, including as-they-happen item alerts and a big timer that counts down to zero in sync with eBay's servers. Unfortunately, in its current form eBay Desktop doesn't have much to offer the power seller, but it's a can't-miss for the shopper.

Next: Pandora Desktop--stream personalized Internet radio stations

Pandora Desktop: Desktop Client for Popular Streaming Music Site

Caption: You're no doubt already familiar with Pandora Radio, the music-streaming Web site that creates streaming music stations based on your tastes. There's absolutely nothing to Pandora beyond the Pandora player, which makes it a perfect candidate for AIR--and is no doubt why Pandora was quick to create this AIR application.

With Pandora Desktop for Air, you don't need to fire up your Web browser or keep Pandora buried among your browser tabs. Instead, the radio station runs as a standalone desktop application, with integration into your system tray, including right-click options for changing stations, viewing the currently playing track, and playing or pausing the track.

For advice on shooting the photos to create a panoramic picture, read Ultimate Panoramic Photos.

Next: Klock--A slick time tracker

Klok: Very Slick Time-Tracking Application

Klok doesn't integrate with the Web at all, but it does a superb job of tracking all your time spent on projects, client work, and pretty much anything else. The Klok application features a beautiful interface, impressive tracking tools, a reports view for analyzing your time in pretty charts, and simple tools for exporting your time sheet. Whether you work as a freelancer, consult, or just want to keep a closer eye on where your time goes, Klok does the trick nicely.

Next: Nomee--gain control over sprawling social networking apps

Nomee: Organize Your Social Networking Apps

Connecting people is what the Web does best, but between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, instant messaging, your blog, and all the rest, managing those connections can be a headache. Nomee aims to simplify the process by organizing your various online contacts, the sites and services you (and they) use, and the things you like into one attractive desktop application.

The app works by creating contact cards that encapsulate all of this information for you and your friends, enabling you to track the person rather than the Web sites the person uses.

For more on Nomee and other new apps, watch PC World's video "Web 2.0: The Latest in Social Networking Apps."

Next: Snackr--a versatile RSS ticker

Snackr: Versatile RSS Ticker

Snackr puts a real-time news ticker on your desktop, delivering up-to-the-minute news from any RSS feed on the Web. The ticker positions itself along any border of your monitor--top, bottom, left, or right--and displays headlines, sources, and thumbnail pictures from every news item it pulls from the Web. Click the item for a preview, and head to the original post if you see something that looks intriguing.

Snackr ships with a slate of popular RSS feeds from the across the Web, but you can easily customize the app to display any number of RSS feeds of your choice.

Next: Font Picker--the right font for the right job

Font Picker: Browse All Fonts Installed on Your PC

Love a good font? Fire up Font Picker, and it automatically loads all of the fonts installed on your PC. To test your fonts against any piece of text, simply click on any of the “Type Here” text, enter your own word or phrase, and peruse the output for any font on your PC. When you're putting together a document that needs to look great, finding the perfect font for the job can mean a lot.

Next: ReadAIR--a better Google Reader experience

ReadAIR: Google Reader Desktop Client

If you love Google Reader but aren't enamored with Reader's default Web interface, give ReadAIR a try. This app syncs with Google Reader to display your favorite feeds in an attractive desktop interface. ReadAIR ships with both Windows- and Mac-specific themes, a more traditional three-pane interface for reading your feeds, great keyboard shortcut support, and other desktop integration features that completely remake the Google Reader experience.

Interested in even more cool apps?

Try these stories:

"Adobe AIR Moves Web Apps to the Next Level"

"How to Live Your Entire Life on Facebook"

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