Here come the real AIR apps! – FedEx Desktop
As excited as I have been about Adobe AIR, I’ve been a bit frustrated at the lack of real-world, useful applications that take advantage of some of the amazing features that AIR provides. Recently, I’ve started seeing some great progress! Here is a great example:
FedEx just released FedEx Desktop, an AIR application for tracking packages. At first I was skeptical. I was afraid that it was just an AIR version of a web-based tracking app which just doesn’t impress me. However, after installing the app and playing with it, I found that it is a great use of AIR.
What does this application allow me to do that web-browser-based tracking does not?
- Local data – The FedEx Desktop app provides a feature called “Nickname Shipments”, which allows a nickname to be assigned to each package such as “My anxiously awaited Nikon D300“. Also, tracking history is cached locally and searchable by tracking number, nickname, etc. There are also filters that can be applied to see delivery exceptions, completed deliveries, etc. (see image to the right). If you manage a lot of FedEx shipments, this is extremely useful stuff!
- Drag and Drop / Desktop Integration – As shown in the screenshot above, shipments can be dragged from the main app to the desktop. This “placard” is automatically updated as the shipment progresses.
- Notifications – the app can be left running in the background and will auto-notify you as the status changes.
- Branding – the entire application is clearly branded FedEx from the color scheme to the desktop icon.
The app runs on Windows, Mac OS and even appears to work on the beta version of AIR for Linux! Without AIR, it would be a huge undertaking to deliver a desktop application with this level of features, especially to multiple platforms. Since AIR apps can auto-update, software distribution and updates are much easier to manage. Lastly, installation is a no-brainer with AIR – no complex multi-platform installers are needed.
For more information and to download the application, go to http://www.fedex.com/desktop
I’m eager to see more applications like this. I know of others in the works already. Stay tuned!