FINALLY – it’s here – Flex on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry PlayBook

We’ve talked about Flex apps for Android, iOS and PlayBook for over a year… and you’re sick of hearing about it, right?  Well, now we’re going to shut up and let the actual shipping product do the talking.  Today, we released Flash Builder 4.5.1, the promised update to 4.5 that adds iOS and BlackBerry PlayBook to the recently released Android support.

The dialog box to the right is now something you can see yourself minutes after downloading Flash Builder 4.5.1.

Are you skeptical?  Many developers are. But, over the past few weeks, we’ve been showing off apps built with 4.5.1 and watched developer after developer say “wow” when they see the performance of the resulting applications (see my previous blog post for more details on how developers responded and the questions they asked).

  • To see how great the performance is, check out Christophe Coenraets’ Adobe TV video – Christophe demonstrates the same app running on an iPad, iPod touch and various Android devices.  The apps even show off video collaboration over 3G across devices and across OSes!
  • I recently interviewed Shashwati Keith, one of the Flex SDK QE engineers about an app that she wrote called Muni Tracker that is already available in the Apple app store and Android Market (and soon the BlackBerry PlayBook app store!).  See the Adobe TV video.
  • What about games?  Here’s an Adobe TV video where I demonstrate some games built by HD Interactive.  The games are Pyramix and Mr. Mixit, both of which are available for iOS and Android now (be sure to check out the reviews!).  Pyramix was even recently on the “New and Noteworthy” list of word games in the Apple app store (more details here)!  I recently interviewed the Sean Carey and Todd Williams of HD Interactive about how these apps were developed and how they addressed the challenges of building apps for multiple device types.  We also discuss the economics of being able to build apps for multiple OSes, marketplaces, etc. See the video here.
  • Serge Jespers recently did an Adobe TV video demonstrating how apps can be built for all three mobile OSes using Flash Builder 4.5.1.
  • Serge also did an Adobe TV video specific to building apps on iOS (certs, provisioning, etc.)

So yes, it’s real, it’s here, it’s available for download and many developers already have solid apps in the various app stores today.

If you’ve stumbled onto this article and are asking “What the heck is Flex?”, I suggest you start here.  To sum it up, it’s OO, event driven, component-based and something you will acclimate to quickly if you are familiar with Java and similar languages.  The IDE is eclipse-based so you already know how to use it.  You can even do on-device debugging and app deployment FROM Eclipse.

Are you wondering how we get apps to work on iOS?  I recently interviewed Scott Petersen, one of the geniuses behind the magic, and posted the interview here.

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Build Mobile Apps for Android Devices, BlackBerry PlayBook, iPhone and iPad Today!

Since our April news announcing Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, we began with support for building mobile apps across multi-device platforms, first with Android. Today we’re happy to announce updates to Flash Builder and the Flex framework that now offer support for iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook. As a result, developers can quickly build and distribute apps through the Android Market, BlackBerry App World and Apple App Store using one tool chain, programming language and code base—a first for developers!

Our own Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers shows us what “one tool, one framework, one codebase” means, and demonstrates an app developed for different devices using Flash Builder and Flex:

Developers from different industries such as government, entertainment and gaming have been using Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to help them reduce development time and the cost of delivery to build some pretty amazing apps across the major platforms:

- Politifact.com: A project of the St. Petersburg Times and a 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, the PolitiFact.com team extended its website content into a mobile app available across leading app stores. The PolitiFact.com app helps readers find truth in politics by investigating statements by members of Congress, the President, lobbyists and other Washington D.C. personalities. 

- Netflix Queue Manager: Using Adobe AIR 2.5, Flash Builder 4.5.1 and the Flex framework, RIA design and development group UnitedMindset created the Netflix Queue Manager, which allows users to connect with and manage their Netflix queue across devices and features intuitive search capabilities. With success in the Android Market—over 340,000 downloads since October 2010—the app is coming soon to BlackBerry AppWorld and the Apple App Store.

- Mr. Mixit and Pyramix: Web design and development agency HD Interactive first released Pyramix, a word game combining the strategy of Cryptoquote and the simplicity of Boggle, and Mr. Mixit, a spin-based matching game where you mix record labels against the clock, to Apple’s App Store. The new updates allowed HD Interactive to use the same code to deliver the apps to Android Market and BlackBerry AppWorld in record time. 

- Muni Tracker: Are you from the San Francisco Bay Area or maybe planning to visit? This app helps you track locations, arrival times and bookmark your favorite stops and lines for Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), San Francisco’s public transit system. The developer was able to quickly and easily port this original Android app to iOS.

- Conqu is an easy to use yet powerful task management tool designed to help conquer an e-mail inbox and get things done. Using Flash Builder 4.5, the developer, AsFusion, was able deploy the app on multiple platforms with minimal effort. They were also able to reduce the time to develop the app since there was no need to debug different code for each individual platform.

Android and iOS users can also check out these apps from the Adobe Mobile Showcase at m.adobeshowcase.com. As always, we’d love to see and hear what you’re creating with our technology – whether it’s mobile, web or desktop apps. In fact, we encourage you to upload videos about what you’re building to the Flash Builder 4.5 Widget to share and even vote on projects from around the community!

Food Safety 2.0: Adobe Technologies Help Federal Agencies Collaborate on Food Supply Defense and Protection

Before a wedge of lettuce, ear of corn or cut of steak makes it to your dinner plate, there is a long process that food goes through to ensure that it is safe to eat. The process to determine food safety is overseen by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). How do these massive agencies collaborate and make sure that they can securely access info, even when it’s outside of their organizations servers and ecosystems? That’s where the Adobe Flash Platform comes in.

In order for these agencies to cross-collaborate on food supply safety, Eric Hoffman, technical director at Minnesota based Datastream Connexion, created CoreSHIELD. CoreSHIELD, with “Core” standing for “common organization registry environment,” is operated by the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. CoreSHIELD began as a single portal that was built on Adobe ColdFusion back in 2004. Given its success as the underlying framework, CoreSHIELD now holds together dozens of customized portals (such as FoodSHIELD) that share resources under a common umbrella for federal agencies.  As Hoffman has created more portals, he used Adobe ColdFusion Builder and Adobe Flash Builder to build them.

To date, CoreSHIELD lets 350,000 users across federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as laboratories and academia, work collaboratively toward improved national security, a more safeguarded  U.S. food supply and better public health practices. In addition to using ColdFusion and Flash Builder, CoreSHIELD relied on multiple Adobe technologies like Adobe Flex and Adobe Connect. Additionally,  Adobe RoboHelp was used for building help systems, Adobe Captivate helped create screen walkthroughs, Adobe Contribute came in handy for managing and updating web content, and  Adobe Acrobat Professional  helped ensure that critical research documents can be distributed to the broadest possible audience. With Adobe, CoreSHIELD has been able to enhance secure communication and collaboration across agencies via multiple platforms. 

To learn more about how CoreSHIELD used Adobe technologies in order for local, state, and federal agencies to collaborate, read more here.

Tutorial: Accessing Microphone on Android in Adobe AIR

This video is the latest in a long series of tutorials on how to use the new Flash Builder for Flex Mobile Development.  This particular exercise targets Android however the same code can be run on iOS (cross compiled using 4.5.1) and BlackBerry Tablet OS.  Here is the video:

The project will be released shortly to the Android marketplace along with the full source code and some great new graphics thanks to my brother Paul Trani!  If you want the project source code for Flash Builder 4.5.1 + in the meantime, please email me direct dnickull at adobe dot com.

This will be part of the AIR Mobile Code Camp at Adobe MAX 2011 in October!  Sign up now!

Seattle Force.com Developer Meetup on June 22

Next week I’ll be presenting in Seattle at my first Force.com Developer Meetup! It starts at 6pm on Wednesday, June 22. My session will be on Flex Mobile Development. Other sessions include Force.com Platform Basics, Native iOS Development using JavaScript, and a Force.com Hands-On Lab. It’s going to be a fun evening, so if you are in the Seattle area, then I hope to see you there!

Get more details and register!

Adobe AIR 2.7 is out!

We’ve just released Adobe AIR 2.7 for desktop, Android, iOS, and PlayBook. In terms of features, here is a list of the most important.

Mobile:

  • Improved performance for AIR apps (including those built with Flex) running on iOS. You will see up to a 4X improvement for the same app when running on AIR 2.7.
  • Faster development time for iOS applications – there is a new mode for testing and debugging your AIR app on iOS devices that will enable faster cycles.
  • And this is one I’m sure you’ll love: you can install the AIR runtime on the SD card of your Android device.

Desktop:

  • Integrated support for Media Measurement – allows companies to see how content is distributed and viewed by users
  • Acoustic echo cancellation – this is the same feature already available in Flash Player 10.3. It means you can enable users to do VoIP using speakers and microphone (no need for headsets).
  • Navigation Improvements for HTML Content – developers can now respond to a new event to be notified when content within the HTMLLoader control attempts to change the location of a page. This enhancement provides developers with a better way to implement intra-application navigation.

Watch my fellow evangelist, Renaun Erickson, showing AIR app performance on an iPad:

You can download AIR 2.7 from here. This month, Flash Builder 4.5 will get an update to enable support for AIR 2.7 and PlayBook will receive an update OTA of AIR 2.7 by the end of June.

AIR 2.7 now available for desktop, Android, iOS and Blackberry Tablet OS.

When I think about the new features in AIR 2.7 I can’t help but think about this Daft Punk song… Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. That’s exactly what this release is all about… Well… You know what I mean ;-)

On mobile my favorite new feature is the improved rendering on iOS. With this release AIR apps for iOS render up to 4x faster in CPU mode. This change will improve the performance of many AIR for iOS apps, including those built with the Flex framework.

But don’t believe our words for it… Try it out yourself! There are already some really cool AIR apps in the appstore today. Try the Rossignol app for instance.

Or try one of Terry Paton’s games like Meteor Storm or Mazeball!

Another one of my favorite new features is probably the most requested feature for AIR for Android. You can now install or move the AIR runtime onto the SD cards within your Android devices!

An update for Flash Builder will be released soon but you can already grab the AIR SDK today and start building your apps!

AIR 2.7 iPad Descriptor and Command Line Example

Until I can get around to recording something, here are some templates for compiling an iPad applciation with the AIR 2.7 SDK. First is the application descriptor XML file. Change the relevant values to match your app.

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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="no" ?>
<application xmlns="http://ns.adobe.com/air/application/2.7">
   
    <id>com.mypackage.myapp</id>
    <versionNumber>1.0.0</versionNumber>
    <filename>MyApp</filename>
    <description/>
    <name>MyApp</name>
    <copyright/>
   
    <initialWindow>
        <content>MyApp.swf</content>
        <systemChrome>standard</systemChrome>
        <transparent>false</transparent>
        <visible>true</visible>
        <fullScreen>true</fullScreen>
        <aspectRatio>portrait</aspectRatio>
        <renderMode>cpu</renderMode>
        <autoOrients>false</autoOrients>
    </initialWindow>
   
    <icon/>
    <customUpdateUI>false</customUpdateUI>
    <allowBrowserInvocation>false</allowBrowserInvocation>

    <iPhone>
        <InfoAdditions>
            <![CDATA[
               <key>UIDeviceFamily</key>
               <array>
                   <string>2</string>
               </array>
           ]]>
        </InfoAdditions>
    </iPhone>

</application>

Next is the command line statement that compiles your application using ADT. You can provide any SWF that is build at the iPad resolution of 1024×768. This is obviously for Windows but I’m sure you Mac folks can figure out the slight differences. No idea where to get the keystore and provisioning profile? Watch this tutorial.

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"C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre6\bin\java.exe" -jar C:\Users\brimelow\Desktop\AdobeAIRSDK\lib\adt.jar -package -target ipa-ad-hoc -storetype pkcs12 -keystore C:\Users\brimelow\Desktop\desktop\iphone_dev.p12 -storepass password -provisioning-profile C:\Users\brimelow\Desktop\desktop\brimelowProvision.mobileprovision MyiPadApp.ipa MyiPadApp.xml MyiPadApp.swf

Now this is for a quick test compile as I haven’t provided any icons and other finishing touches. But this should get you playing!

Too lazy to build your own example? You can download my test application and try your luck compiling.

Adobe AIR 2.7 is Now Available!

Update: there is not yet tooling support for AIR 2.7 but it will be coming soon. Until then you can compile via the command line.

I know you’ve been hearing a lot about AIR 2.7 lately, particularly surrounding the increased performance on iOS. Well I’m happy to report that it is now available for everyone to use. I will be doing a short tutorial tonight explaining how to get it setup. Until then, check out this video from Renaun showing the improved iOS performance.

Adobe AIR 2.7 Now Available: iOS apps 4x Faster!

Adobe is pleased to announce the availability of Adobe AIR 2.7 SDK and the Adobe AIR 2.7 runtimes.   Adobe AIR 2.7 includes new features for both desktop and mobile applications with mobile support for Android 2.2+, BlackBerry Tablet OS* and iOS 4+ operating systems.  Companies can build and deploy AIR 2.7 apps using Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 with an upcoming update to AIR 2.7 later this month.

*BlackBerry Tablet OS is scheduled to receive an OTA (over the air) update of AIR 2.7 by the end of June.

New AIR 2.7 Features

 

Mobile

- Enhanced rendering for iOS: AIR apps for iOS render up to 4x faster in CPU mode.  This change will improve the performance of many AIR for iOS apps, including those built with the Flex framework.  Watch the performance improvements

- Video: Adobe AIR 2.7: Faster App Performance on iOS  (Renaun Erickson, Adobe Flash Platform Evangelist, demonstrates faster AIR 2.7 app performance on iPad)

- Faster development time for iOS applications: Developers can now debug and build iOS applications faster than with previous versions using a new mode available within the AIR Developer Tool (ADT). During the development of an application, developers can now choose to use “interpreter mode” to streamline the testing and debugging development cycle.

- AIR installation on SD cards for Android devices: This feature allows end users to install or move the AIR runtime onto the SD cards within their Android devices so they can free up storage space on the phone.

Desktop

- Integrated support for Media Measurement:  The Adobe AIR 2.7 runtime now includes the same built-in support for media measurement as Adobe Flash Player 10.3, allowing companies to simplify the collection of real-time, aggregated reporting data for how content is distributed and viewed by users. With direct support for Adobe SiteCatalyst, powered by Omniture, developers can implement video analytics for existing or legacy video players with as little as two lines of code. For additional information, see the article on measuring video consumption in Flash.

 – Acoustic echo cancellation: With integrated support for acoustic echo cancellation, developers can now add real-time VoIP capabilities to games, enterprise, and other types of applications without requiring users to wear a noise-canceling headset. Users can now chat using the speaker built into their desktop or laptop computer. This new capability is also available in Flash Player 10.3.

- Navigation Improvements for HTML Content: Enables seamless weblink-style navigation within desktop apps such as magazine viewers and ebook readers.  Developers can now respond to a new event to be notified when content within the HTMLLoader control attempts to change the location of a page. This enhancement provides developers with a better way to implement intra-application navigation.

For additional feature and release details please read the AIR 2.7 developer release notes.

New AIR apps for Android, iOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS

Although these apps are not currently using AIR 2.7, I thought I’d call to your attention to a few new apps based on Adobe AIR that recently hit the market. 

iOS

- Rossignol Experience: Ski season is coming to a close, but this fantastic app from this famous ski maker provides a rich interactive branded experience to learn more about Rossignal skis. Video demo.

BlackBerry Tablet OS

- Comb Over Charlie: Comb Over Charlie was availble on Android using AIR.  This game is now available on the PlayBook .  Soon to be on the iPad.  4.5 out of 5 stars!

                  BlackBerry Tablet OS version

                  Android version

Android

- G20-G8: This is the official app of the French Presidency of the G20 and the G8.  Get real time updates and access to all the latest developments from the Summits and the preparatory meetings, as well as video reports and photos on the G20-G8 website.

Performance Improvements

Finally, performance improves with each release of AIR and the Flash Player.  If you checked out the AIR 2.7 on iOS video, you can really see the difference.  If you missed it earlier, here are a few Flash Player 10.3 on mobile related performance resources to check out.

Video: Enhanced Video Performance with Flash Player 10.3 on Android 3.1 (Renaun Erickson demos Flash Player 10.3 video on the Motorola Xoom)

Performance Tests

GUIMark3 by Sean Christmann –  Sean tests Flash Player and HTML5 on various phones and tablets.  Check it out.

“In terms of interactive content overall, it’s safe to say Flash maintains a 2x performance lead over HTML5 on average”

“The Flash VM performs really well on mobile chipsets and I don’t see any evidence here to support the idea that Flash is slow on smartphones and tablets.”

The Right Fit? Video Playback Performance on Android Handset and Tablet Devices Using Adobe Flash Player 10.2 and 10.3 By Tim Siglin. – Tim Siglin from Transition Inc., and Streaming Media fame recently published a follow up to his previous white paper testing Flash Player video performance.  

“Our current testing finds that FP 10.2 on handsets and 10.3 on the Xoom: Provide a more consistent media consumption than Android’s built-in apps and services.

Download the Adobe AIR 2.7 SDK