Adobe has announced today that the final release of next major version of Adobe Flash will be as soon this October, which just leaves a few weeks. With the Adobe MAX 2011 event scheduled around that time, it is likely that the runtimes will release during the event.
Flash Player 11 is a rather significant release, and so is AIR 3. Flash Player has the runtime solidifying its hold on Gaming, and real-time communication, while Adobe AIR is trying to become a more lucrative development platform by making Adobe AIR applications more self-contained, rather than dependent on the installed runtime. Additionally AIR 3 also allows for “native extensions” which are essentially bits of native code that can interface with your application via AIR 3 to extend the capabilities of the runtime.
The final release of Flash Player 11 will be able to boast of the following features:
Stage 3D (earlier code-named Molehill)
This is one of the major new features to come with Flash Player 11, and its highlight. Flash Player will now support full fledged hardware-rendered 3D content, which will make rich 3D games possible on Flash.
The new API is rather low level, so it it allows great control over the hardware, and thus more flexibility and power in creating rich 3D graphics.
64-bit cross-platform support
Finally a 64-bit version of Flash will be available, and people can begin moving to 64-bit browsers. Web applications are getting heavier and by going 64-bit, browsers will finally be able to take advantage of increasing memory capacities of desktop hardware.
G.711 audio compression for telephony
G.711 is an audio compression standard that will make it possible for developers to — with the help of server infrastructure such as Flash Media Gateway — tap into telephony networks without requiring audio to be recoded. This will make it simple to develop telephony applications using Flash.
H.264/AVC SW Encode for camera encoding
Flash Player will now be able to perform H.264 / AVC video compression, in both real-time and non-real-time settings. This will make it easier to develop video chatting and recording tools in Flash.
ActionScript 3 already supports powerful XML manipulation via its support for E4X, now JSON is supported equally well and using a similar api as ECMAScript 5th edition.
New garbage collection features allow the developers to hint to the runtime garbage collector on how to carry about garbage collection so it doesn't come as a surprise, and can be done at a time that is least disruptive.
Socket Progress Events
New socket progress events now eliminate the need to manually poll the socket write buffer. The new events will inform when data in removed from the socket write buffer.
Since Flash Player 10.1, the runtime now automatically throttles the resource usage of a Flash object that is no longer being displayed. A event now informs the Flash content about this throttling since the information can be useful to the developer in keeping a server-client environment in sync.
Secure random number generator
Generating random numbers has numerous uses in a variety of computer application, and are vital to encryption software. Flash Player will now use the OSs own API for generating random numbers so they are more secure.
Flash files and RSLs can now use LZMA compression instead of zlib, greatly increasing compression in many cases. LZMA especially compresses vector graphics, 3d mesh data and code content better.
JPEG XR support
JPEG XR is an open format by Microsoft that has better compression and quality characteristics than JPEG. It supports transparency, lossless compression, and a number of other features JPEG doesn't support. Flash content can now read files created in this format.
Asynchronous bitmap decoding
Loading images is now done in a separate thread thus making Flash content loading large image much more responsive.
Large Bitmap Support
Now any size of bitmap can be loaded, making online image editors even more powerful. Earlier this was limited to 4096x4096 (16 megapixels)
Cubic Bezier Curves
Bezier curves are a way of representing curves in vector graphics. With inbuilt support in Flash, these curves can now be generated much more efficiently.
Since Adobe AIR builds on the Flash Player, the features listed above will also be available in AIR 3. In addition the next AIR version offers the following:
Native Extension now make it possible for developers to do some of their applications development in native code and interface it with their AIR application. This could be immensely useful for companies that already have a bulk of code in native languages but just wish to take advantage of the ease of creating UIs in AIR.
Extensions could be used in many ways. For example, extensions could be used to extend the capabilities of AIR by adding support for specific hardware or software environments. For example, numerous Flash-based projects exist that can communicate with Arduino hardware via a proxy. This would enable direct hardware access via a library.
Another use would be to use native code for better performance. Image editing operations, filters, video editing etc. could all be done via extensions, while using a rich AIR interface.
Captive Runtime support
Adobe AIR has till now has the requirement of having the runtime installed on the computer on which it is installed. This means that the application installation will first require the user to install the runtime and then the application itself. With captive runtime support, AIR 3 applications could be packaged as an application capable of running on a computer without AIR installed, or with a different version of AIR installed.
iOS background audio playback support
AIR application compiled for iOS devices can now play audio in the background.
Android Licensing Service support
This is useful for application that are to be published for sale in the Android Market.
Native Text Input UI on Mobile: Mobile applications developed for the mobile Flash Player or the mobile AIR runtime can now use the native text input UIs available on Android, BlackBerry Tablet OS, and iOS
Front-Facing Camera Support: Now applications running on AIR for Android can access the front-facing camera, as was possible on iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS.
Camera Position API: This API for the mobile AIR version allows applications to determine whether they are referring to the front camera, or the rear camera.
Background Audio Playback Support on iOS
Encrypted Local Storage for Mobile: Encrypted local storage allows for storing private sensitive data, such as passwords, on mobile.
Device Speaker Control: Developers can now select whether to output audio through he loudspeaker or the phone speaker.
With the release of the latest runtimes, the next step is obviously the release of the next generation of Adobe tools to build for these new runtimes. To this effect Adobe Flash Builder and the Flex SDK that it uses will be released before the end of this year with support for the latest runtimes.
Till then check out a video of Flash 11’s new 3D features in action: