Tonight we’ve released the AIR 2 and Flash Player 10.1 betas on Adobe Labs (direct download links for Flash Player and AIR). This is the first time we’ve simultaneously released the desktop (AIR) and browser (Flash Player) runtimes for all three platforms (Mac, Windows, Linux) at once which is a great milestone for the Flash Platform. So what is this release and why should you care? One thing to note is that this is just the desktop runtimes, not any mobile runtimes. Those will be coming later. Luckily a lot of the work we did for mobile in terms of adding new APIs and optimizations are all in these releases so you’ll still get a lot of the benefits.
Flash Player 10.1
Lots of new stuff in Flash Player 10.1 including the multi-touch APIs, the performance gains, and some new networking APIs. The biggest thing (IMHO) with this release is the huge, huge memory improvements. Kevin showed the slide at MAX but it’s worth mentioning again. Without any code you’ll see significant improvements in memory with Flash Player 10.1.
The AIR team has been kicking all kinds of ass and I think AIR 2 is going to be a great release. One of the things we heard over and over again after AIR 1.0 was that people wanted more access to the native APIs of the operating system. AIR 2 brings a lot of that. Now you can open up a file with its default application as well as invoke native commands with the new NativeProcess API. We’ve also added the ability to create a socket server inside an AIR application and monitor changes to mounted drives. Plus a lot more. And you get all of the performance enhancements (and more) from Flash Player 10.1 so it should be a lean, mean AIR experience for end users as well.
Developing with the new Runtimes
We won’t have a new Flex SDK for these runtimes yet so it’ll take a tiny bit of manual work to add support for the developer tools and the new runtime. Nick Kwiatkowski has a great screencast up for using the AIR 2 SDK in Flash Builder. It basically involves creating a copy of the Flex 4 SDK and then manually copying over the AIR SDK so it overwrites the AIR 1.5 SDK that ships with Flex 4. On the Flash Player side you’ll have to grab the playerglobal.swc and replace it in your Flex SDK.
I’m pretty excited about this particular set of runtimes. Talking to developers it seems like AIR 2 hits the mark and helps them accomplish more. Seeing the foundation put in on Flash Player 10.1 to create really great mobile experiences is also exciting. As always make sure to provide any feedback or any issues you run into over on the forums.