Adobe today announced the prerelease version of Adobe Flash Player 10 is now available in beta from Adobe Labs.

The new version (code name Astro_ promises many new features for designers and developers, including support for custom filters and effects, native 3D transformation and animation, extensible rich text layout and GPU hardware acceleration. The company says the new features will help Flash offer "a new level of cinematic experiences across multiple browsers and operating systems."

"For over ten years Adobe has pushed the limits of creativity and redefined rich interactive web experiences with Adobe Flash Player. Adobe has a long track record of creating technologies that influence market direction and we believe this beta release of Adobe Flash Player 10 raises the bar once again," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe. "Working closely with the community, we are delivering groundbreaking creative features that will be transformative for interactive designers and developers, and revolutionary for end users."

Custom filters and effects are created with the Adobe Pixel Bender toolkit, also available for no charge on Adobe Labs. Adobe Pixel Bender is the same technology behind many filters and special effects in Adobe After Effects CS3.

A new text engine in Adobe Flash Player offers designers and developers control over device font attributes, such as anti-alias, rotation, and style as well as support for ligatures.

New variable bitrate streaming for video between Adobe Flash Player 10 beta and intended future releases of Adobe Flash Media Server will automatically adjust video quality as bandwidth availability fluctuates to provide constant video playback without pause. The software also introduces native support for 3D effects to easily position, rotate and animate 2D objects while retaining interactivity.

The company claims over 75 per cent of broadcasters who stream video on the web use Flash. Many features introduced within this application will be introduced into future versions of Adobe AIR the company said, adding these will also "contribute to future work on the Open Screen Project."

The prerelease version of Adobe Flash Player 10 beta is available immediately as a free download from Adobe Labs.