Adobe has released public betas of the next generation of both Adobe Flash Player, and Adobe AIR, highlighting how the essential browser plug-in and cross-platform runtime component share similar code and technologies.
The most notable new feature is found exclusively in Flash Player 11 Beta: support for 64-bit browsers. 64-bit support has been in development since Flash 10.2, but until now has been available only as a limited pre-release build, codenamed Adobe Flash Player “Square”. By incorporating it into the Beta release of Flash Player 11, Adobe has signalled its readiness for final release, due later this year.
One potentially confusing consequence of 64-bit browser support is the fact there are now four different versions of Flash Player 11 available in the form of separate 32-bit and 64-bit builds for both Internet Explorer (32-bit, 64-bit), and other browsers (32-bit, 64-bit), which include Firefox, Safari and Opera and Chrome.
Aside from 64-bit support, all other new features and improvements apply equally to both Flash Player 11 and Adobe AIR 3, including Stage 3D Accelerated Graphics Rendering. This basically follows the example set by recent browser releases in allowing both Flash and AIR content to utilise hardware graphics acceleration for both 2D and 3D graphics rendering to deliver better performance.
Other technological improvements reveal a bias towards streaming audio and video technologies, starting with support for H.264/AVC software encoding for video cameras, which delivers performance benefits for video streaming. G.711 audio compression is also implemented for telephony, with one eye on integrating voice calls into business apps.
Flash Player 11 also introduces Socket Progress Events, which will support the development of Flash-based file-sharing apps such as FTP clients, as well as support for delivering HD video with full HD 7.1 channel surround sound directly to AIR-powered TVs.
A full list of changes is provided in Adobe’s release notes – in PDF format – which covers both Flash Player and AIR.
Adobe Flash Player 11 Beta is available as a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux in four separate flavors: Internet Explorer (32-bit, 64-bit), and other browsers (32-bit, 64-bit). Adobe AIR 3 Beta is also released as a free download for both Windows and Mac.