Adobe has released the latest update to their AIR runtime and SDK. The newest version 2.7, comes with numerous improvements for mobile and desktops, perhaps the most significant of them being an improvement in the performance of iOS application developed in Flash by a factor of as much as 4 times.
- Acoustic echo cancellation: echo cancellation is supported by the runtime itself now. This stands to improve VoIP features included in AIR applications, without needing noise-cancelling headphones.
- Media Measurement: This new feature allows developers to easily add support for collecting and reporting data about content distribution and viewing. It integrates with Adobe's SiteCatalyst service.
Another great new feature for desktops is:
Improvements to navigation with HTMLLoader: This new feature allows application developers to respond to attempts to change the location of a page loaded in an HTMLLoader. HTMLLoader is used by AIR applications to display web content in AIR applications in an embedded browser. With this change, AIR application can change their state or respond otherwise to clicks within the embedded browser.
Adobe AIR 2.7 has released for mobile devices as well, It has been released for Android 2.2 and above, iOS 4 and above, and a update later this month with bring the version of Adobe AIR on the Blackberry Playbook up to date as well. The mobile release includes the following new features and enhancements:
- iOS rendering improvements: This is the previously-mentioned 4x improvement in rendering performance for AIR apps on iOS using the CPU mode.
- iOS application debugging improvements: A new interpreter mode is now available to developers for debugging applications for the iOS platform.
- AIR for Android on SD cards: Recent version of Android have supported installing applications on the SD card instead of the phone memory. Now AIR supports being installed to the SD card as well.
More information is available in the release notes.
You can check out the following video to see the improvements in AIR's performance on iOS:
The Adobe AIR 2.7 is significant for more then just these new features and improvements. It also marks the completion of Adobe's effort to move to mobile platforms. Adobe intends to move on from simply improving the performance of the runtime on mobile platforms to "pushing the envelope". A lot of great new features lie ahead with Flash Player 11, and the next major AIR version, and that is probably where Adobe would like to concentrate now. It seems unlikely then that there will be a Flash Player 10.4 and AIR 2.8 release.
Another reason why Adobe AIR 2.7 is significant is that, from this version on Adobe will no longer support AIR for Linux. Both the AIR for Linux Runtime and SDK are no longer going to be made available. Adobe attributes this to the fact that a relatively few 0.5% of downloads of Adobe AIR were for Linux. This makes Adobe AIR 2.6 the last version of AIR to be available for Linux.
It seems like a bad move to drop a platform as major as Linux when newer open web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 etc are actively competing against the Flash Player in features, performance and are completely cross-platform. Numerous toolkits such as the recently updated Appcelerator Titanium allow developers to create application that run natively on all three platforms.
Linux support by Adobe has never been stellar, as there is yet to be a stable 64-bit release of Flash Player on Linux — or any platform for that matter, but Linux 64-bit is more important as 64-bit browsers are more common on Linux — and the last release wasFlash Player "Square" which was based on 10.2. Adobe AIR too was only available in a 32-bit version, and the methods for installing it on 64-bit were complicated, especially for newer Linux users. Did Adobe really expect more than 0.5% downloads when Linux was never supported to a full extent? More information about the status of AIR for Linux is available in this document.
Adobe is however not cutting off Linux entirely. They will make available an Adobe AIR porting kit, which includes the source code, to their Open Screen Project partners. Their partners can then release versions of Adobe AIR for the particular Linux-based implementation they are using on their device (PC, mobile devices, TVs, set-top boxes etc.) Adobe's own focus is on Mobile platforms now.