Adobe Systems launches Flash Player 11 and Air 3

Software adds 3D video to apps, dozens of other features

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Adobe Systems announced on Wednesday the release of Flash Player 11 and Adobe Air 3 software to help developers build more sophisticated applications, with dozens of new features across smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers.

The releases are Adobe's biggest in two years and will be available free of charge in early October, said Anup Murarka, Adobe's director of product marketing. The related tools, Flash Builder and Flex, will support new features in Flash Player 11 and Adobe Air 3 by the end of the year.

The releases will enable delivery of 2D and 3D games over the Internet to various devices, Murarka said. Developers of enterprise applications will also find the 3D capabilities popular for data-centric apps. Enterprises, for example, will be able to build application dashboards to "visualize complex data sets" with 3D images, he said.

Developers will also be able to use the tools to more deeply integrate business software like Microsoft Excel and Outlook into devices and to access hardware programming interfaces for functions being used more widely in smartphones, such as near-field communication, Murarka said.

The new versions will also help developers build more secure applications with the ability to leverage cryptographically secure random number generation, he said.

For 3D support, Abode said faster video rendering on desktops is provided through hardware acceleration. A pre-release version of those same 2D and 3D features for mobile platforms, such as Android, Apple iOS, and BlackBerry Tablet OS, is also now available, with a full production release coming "in the near future," Adobe said in a statement.

Other features give developers the ability to package Air 3 within an application to simplify installation of apps on Android, Windows and Mac OS, much the same as what Adobe has done for Apple iOS recently.

Adobe also said developers will be able to extend capabilities already built into the device, such as the accelerometer or near-field communication technology, through HTML5 as well as Flash.

Even so, Adobe notes that 130 different smartphone models and 85 tablets will run Flash-based apps by the end of the year, totaling about 200 million units. That number is expected to reach more than 1 billion units by the end of 2015.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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