Adobe Releases Flash 11 And Air 3 Media Platforms

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Flash 11 and Air 3 have been launched by Adobe to deliver rich user experiences across an array of devices

Adobe Systems announced Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe Air 3 software to enable the next generation of immersive application experiences across devices and platforms including Android, Apple iOS (via Air), BlackBerry Tablet OS, Mac OS, Windows, connected TVs and other platforms.

In an interview with eWEEK, Anup Murarka, Adobe’s director of product marketing, said user expectations have changed in a few areas including general purpose applications, gaming apps, and premium video apps.

“What’s relevant is the role of Flash vis-a-vis HTML,” Murarka said. “There are three categories where Flash will continue to differentiate itself: in gaming, in video and media rich apps and in data driven apps. In HTML5 there are exciting opportunities. We see this as a business opportunity. We’re doing a lot with Dreamweaver and new products like Adobe Edge in this regard. And you’ll see us produce and create more products for that area as well.”

Rights Protection Built-In

Adobe officials said media companies can take advantage of new features to deliver protected feature-length, cinema-quality HD video seamlessly through the Web, in mobile apps, and even with surround sound for connected TVs. Flash Player 11 and Air 3 provide a cross-device entertainment platform, enabling the best in online gaming and premium video while helping content publishers to reach the broadest possible audience with highly-leveraged development investments.

Moreover, Adobe officials said dozens of new features in Flash Player 11 and Air 3 allow developers to deliver a new class of gaming and premium video experiences, as well as sophisticated, data-driven applications with back-end systems integration across devices, including the iPhone and iPad via Air. Air native extensions add support for unique device features and native code libraries, empowering developers to freely choose the right mix of Flash, HTML5 and native code to provide powerful user experiences across PCs and devices.

Flash Player 11 and Air 3 will be publicly available in early October. Flash Builder and Flex, Adobe’s open source framework for building mobile, Web and desktop apps, will offer support for the new features in an upcoming release before the end of the year, Adobe said.

“With this milestone release Adobe pushes the envelope of what is possible on the Web with a typical PC and opens up a new world of immersive, high-performance gaming experiences,” said Danny Winokur, vice president and general manager of platform at Adobe, in a statement. “Flash offers the best way for content owners to deliver their most demanding experiences, including games, premium video and sophisticated data-driven apps, to all of their users, while HTML 5 tools such as Adobe Edge and Dreamweaver are ideal for building interactive Web pages, rich ads, branded microsites and general purpose mobile applications.”

New Features

Flash Player 11 and Air 3 offer dozens of new features including:

  • Accelerated 2D/3D Graphics: Full hardware-accelerated rendering for 2D and 3D graphics enable 1,000 times faster rendering performance over Flash Player 10 and Air 2. Developers are able to animate millions of objects with smooth 60 frames per second rendering and deliver console-quality games on Mac OS, Windows and connected televisions. A pre-release brings these same accelerated 2D and 3D capabilities to mobile platforms including Android, Apple iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS. A production release for mobile platforms is expected in the near future.
  • Air Native Extensions: With support for thousands of highly-optimised, open-source libraries, developers are able to tap into unique software and hardware capabilities including access to device data, vibration control, magnetometers, light sensors, dual screens, near field communications (NFC) and more. Native extensions also allow developers to more deeply integrate Air applications with other business software.
  • Captive Runtime: Developers can automatically package Air 3 with their applications to simplify the installation process on Android, Windows and Mac OS in addition to Apple iOS. Users no longer have to download and update Air separately on any of these platforms, or BlackBerry Tablet OS, which includes Air built in. In addition, with the captive runtime option developers can manage version updates to their application independent of general Air updates by Adobe.
  • Content Protection: premium video content can now be protected using Adobe Flash Access 3 across all supported platforms, including new support for mobile platforms.
  • HD Video Quality Across Platforms: full frame rate HD video can now be displayed within Air applications on Apple iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding. Rich applications on televisions are also able to deliver HD video with 7.1 channel surround sound.
  • Rental and Subscriptions Support: With support for Adobe Flash Access and AdobePass, content publishers can take advantage of rental and subscription options for more flexible business models and offer TV Everywhere content to more than 80 percent of US pay TV subscribers.
  • Compatibility: 64-bit support on Linux, Mac OS and Windows ensures a seamless experience with the latest 64-bit browsers.

Games Support

As the game console for the Web, Flash Player 11 and Air 3 allow game publishers to deliver console-quality 2D and 3D games over the Internet instantly to nearly all PCs and many other devices.

Cadir Lee, CTO of games developer Zynga, said in a statement, “Zynga’s mission is to connect the world through games by bringing play to everyone, everywhere. In order to do that, we’re committed to building mainstream entertainment across all devices, platforms and applications, whether it’s through Flash or HTML5. We look forward to the release of Adobe Flash Player 11 and Adobe Air as next-generation applications to help bring Zynga games to our players worldwide.”

Mark Vange, vice president and chief technology officer at EA Interactive, commented, “We strive to bring games to our customers wherever and whenever they want to play. The ubiquity of Flash helps EA to bring our chart-topping games to a broader variety of platforms and connect with consumers across a wide range of devices.”

Michael Plank, co-founder of Pro 3 Games, revealed, “Adobe Flash Player with 3D lets us render a tremendous number of buffered triangles quickly with excellent performance and stability. It was clear from the beginning that Adobe Flash was the perfect solution to deliver browser-based, console-quality games with powerful visuals and interactivity. The develop once, deploy anywhere capabilities enable us to engage gamers everywhere across Web browsers and sets us up nicely to move into the mobile space.”

Anton Volkov, chief technology officer at AlternativaPlatform, said, “Adobe Flash makes it easy to extend the reach of our brand and our games because of the deep market penetration of Flash Player and that worldwide ubiquity is critical for us. Adobe Flash Player 11 with Stage 3D provides unique functionality, including native 64-bit support and asynchronous bitmap decoding, to allow us to leverage both 2D and 3D components for the best gaming experience possible.”

Almost Total Adoption

Adobe’s Murarka claimed Flash Player is supported on more than 98 percent of Internet connected PCs, adding that, by the end of 2011, Adobe expects more than 200 million smartphones and tablets, including Apple iOS devices, to support Flash-based applications via Adobe Air. By the end of 2015, the number of devices that will support Adobe Air is expected to increase to a billion.

Adobe Air, a superset of Flash Player, enables developers to leverage existing code to create and deliver standalone applications across devices and platforms. Thousands of Flash based applications have already been created and made available on Android Market, iTunes App Store, Samsung SmartTV Store and BlackBerry AppWorld today, Adobe said.

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