Despite the rise of HTML5, Adobe is continuing to build out its Flash and AIR runtimes. The company today announced updates to the runtimes, with equivalent updates to the Flex development framework and Flash Builder.
Among the new features in Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 are support for 2D and 3D graphics via full hardware-accelerated rendering, as well as support for native extensions that enable developers to leverage software and hardware capabilities such as data and file access, vibration control, and light sensors, among others. So, developers writing apps in Flash Builder can pull in native APIs as needed to take advantage of specific hardware capabilities.
Prior to this, developers could not port their applications from one hardware device to another without migrating the underlying libraries, according to Anup Muraka, director of Flash product marketing.
Further, a new captive runtime feature gives developers the ability to automatically package AIR 3 runtimes in the applications to ease installation on Android, Mac OS and Windows systems, as well as iOS, the company said. This eliminates the need for users to download and maintain the runtime.
Flash, according to Muraka, is “on track to be in 130 smartphones, including the iPhone, and supported by 85 tablets.” He said estimates show that Flash will be in more than one billion devices by the end of 2015, and that desktop penetration is still around 98%. And, he added that Flash update installations are accelerating.
“We are not backing off Flash or AIR in any way,” Muraka said. “The key metrics for Flash still are growing really well.”
He did acknowledge that the Web has changed, and has grown—via HTML5—to take on capabilities that only were available in Flash. “But in certain areas, such as 3D graphics, it will take time for them to be consistently available.”
Muraka pointed to the inability of the industry to agree upon a codec for videos to be included in HTML5, meaning developers building content have to decide which one to support, or whether to embed video in their HTML5 application at all.
“At some point, there will be common ground, but we see three areas as drivers for growth: gaming, video or media apps, and data-driven apps,” he said.
The releases are due to be publicly available in October; the Flash Builder and Flex updates are expected before the end of the year.