Flash 11 and AIR 3 get a release date

The new version of Adobe's Flash Player comes with a new architecture for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, while AIR 3 will make it possible to install AIR apps without pre-installing the runtime
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Adobe will release major updates to its Flash Player and AIR products in early October, the company said on Tuesday.

Flash Player logo

Major updates to Adobe's Flash Player and AIR products are coming in October. Photo credit: Adobe

Flash Player 11 comes with a new architecture for hardware-accelerated graphics rendering. Previously codenamed 'Molehill', it now has the official moniker of Stage 3D. The new version of Flash Player also has a new lightweight framework for 2D graphics and animations, dubbed 'Starling'.

Developers wanting to publish Flash apps for Flash-unfriendly platforms such as iOS will be able to do so by packaging them in AIR 3, the latest iteration of Adobe's cross-platform runtime.

Stage 3D allows for rendering performance that is 1,000 times faster than that achievable on Flash Player 10 — unless the customer is using "mom's old PC with Windows XP", in which case it is only two to 10 times faster, according to Flash Player product manager Tom Nguyen.

"It enables new classes of console-quality games and immersive apps... Stage 3D enables content that efficiently animates millions of objects on screen, smoothly rendered at 60 frames per second," Nguyen wrote in a blog post on Tuesday. "The result is fluid, cinematic app and game experiences."

Nguyen outlined a new 3D framework called Proscenium, which Adobe will soon make available through Adobe Labs.

"Proscenium will allow developers using Flash Builder to rapidly prototype experiences focused on simple content interaction and display, whether for simple games, visualisation, or high-quality rendering of small object collections," he said.

Flash Player 11 includes full native support for 64-bit browsers, while AIR 3 supports native extensions that allow AIR-packaged apps to use a device's sensors and near-field communication (NFC) features. AIR 3 also makes it possible to have in-app payments and use multiple screens.

Crucially, AIR 3 is the first version to let developers to package their apps so that users do not have to download AIR before installing the app itself on an Android, Windows or Mac OS X machine.

Other new features in the updated runtime are content protection for video being streamed to mobile platforms, the ability to display full frame-rate HD video within AIR apps on iOS devices using H.264 decoding, and support for rental and subscription options.

The updates come at a troubling time for Adobe, as even Microsoft is now veering away from Flash compatibility in much of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. Apple has been cool on the technology for years. While Linux browsers will benefit from the 64-bit support in Flash Player 11, Adobe dropped its AIR development for the open-source platform back in June.

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