Undeterred by the growing prevalence of HTML5, Adobe has announced that Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 will be available in early October.
The company claims that, via AIR, Flash Player 11 will enable application experiences across devices and platforms including Apple iOS. AIR is a superset of Flash Player that enables developers to use existing code to create and deliver standalone applications across devices and platforms, including Apple iOS.
Speaking about Adobe's continued focus on Flash in a conference call with Digital Arts' sister title Macworld, Adobe's VP of the Flash runtime Danny Winokur, explained that there are areas where HTML5 excels, and areas where Flash offers the advantage to developers. The areas where Flash excels include gaming, media, and data-driven apps (particularly those that require a back-end system).
Winokur said: "Flash continues to blaze a trail in what the world should expect from high-impact web and mobile application experiences. 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 HTML5 tools such as Adobe Edge and Dreamweaver are ideal to build interactive web pages, rich ads, branded microsites and general-purpose mobile applications."
"Flash enables the platform reach and leverage that our customers find useful," added Winokur. "They can deploy to each client without changing a pixel."
Jakub Dvorsky, game designer and director at Amanita Design, emphasised the importance of Flash for game development, saying: "The opportunities for casual gaming on desktops, tablets, and other mobile devices are endless and without Flash we wouldn't have been able to create such beautiful, rich and interactive animations. It's absolutely crucial for us to reach the widest possible audience without having to start the development work from scratch for each platform. With Flash, we were able to revamp Machinarium in a matter of weeks and bring it from the web to the iPad as an app in less than two months with other platforms like Android and BlackBerry following soon."
Adobe's Winokur doesn't rule out the importance of HTML5 when it comes to general-purpose apps and the web: "We see HTML5 as the focus of these sorts of apps", he told Macworld.
Winokur added that Adobe is working with community leaders in HTML5, and he noted that many features previously only available in Flash are starting to become features of HTML5, but he believes there will continue to be opportunities for new developments in Flash, which is the "leading edge, pioneer".
Adobe claims there are dozens of new features in Flash Player 11 and Air 3.
Native extensions The update offers support for "unique device features and native code libraries, empowering developers to freely choose the right mix of Flash, HTML 5 and native code", says Adobe. This means developers can take advantage of the latest innovations for a device straight away, where historically they would have had to wait for the AIR architecture update. "Now developers can write native code and take advantage as soon as latest innovations become available", explained Winkour.
2D/3D support Full hardware-accelerated rendering for 2D and 3D graphics enables 1,000 times faster rendering performance compared to Flash Player 10 and AIR 2, according to Adobe. This means developers can "animate millions of objects with smooth 60 frames-per-second rendering and deliver console-quality games on Mac OS," according to Adobe. The same technology is coming to mobile (including iOS) in a pre-release, says the company.
Captive Runtime Another benefit is that developers can package AIR 3 with their application, simplifying the installation process for Android, Windows Mac OS and iOS operating system, says Adobe. The benefit being that users no longer have to download and update the runtime separately, and developers can manage version updates to their application independent of general AIR runtime updates by Adobe.
HD Video Many developers will be pleased to hear that, thanks to H.264 hardware decoding, it is possible to play video without having to exit to a video player. "Full frame rate videos can now be displayed within Flash based applications on Apple iOS devices using H.264 hardware decoding," says Adobe. The same breakthrough means rich applications on televisions are also able to deliver HD video with 7.1 channel surround sound.
Other new features include Content Protection: so that premium video content can be protected; Rental and Subscriptions: content publishers can take advantage of rental and subscription options; Security thanks to cryptographically secure random number generation, more secure applications can be created; 64-bit: native support for 64-bit operating systems.