Adobe’s latest and most compelling foray into rich internet application development, Appollo, is really interesting for a couple of reasons.
A few years ago, everyone was talking about how as browser-based apps became increasingly powerful and sophisticated, the OS might soon disappear. What’s interesting about this development is that it works in the opposite direction. Apollo makes the browser disappear it does an en run around it. So my question is, if we don’t need the browser any more and the OS is also superfluous, what’s left?
The development stack gets a lot more complicated as technologies like Apollo make headway. Used to be that the browser layer was fairly abstracted from everything below it. Modern OSs now incorporate a range of web services-based APIs to bridge the gap; and again, what we’re seeing is a reciprocal move in the opposite direction. Apollo makes the Internet App central and allows it to hook into the desktop layer, presumably through an API-like model.
One last thing, from a user experience perspective: what is the promise of a fully web-integrated dev stack that reaches right down into the core OS? What will these apps look and feel like? Part of the freedom that a separate web layer on top of the OS has enabled was the ability to re-conceptualize the UI. I’m not sure that the full scope of that promise has truly been realized, and wonder if it ever will as we begin to connect our web-based apps back into the desktop environment and paradigm. At the same time, we’re already seeing how web-based content hooked into the desktop can lead to a multiplicity of experiences (think media center’s UI, widgets and gadgets, etc.) co-existing peacefully. This is the prospect and maybe the promise of Apollo that excites me most.