At Adobe MAX in Los Angeles today, we previewed the next major release of Adobe AIR to thousands of Adobe customers and partners. Several exciting new capabilities of the AIR runtime were demonstrated by Adobe’s CTO, Kevin Lynch, as part of the "day one" keynote. In addition, Christian Cantrell, a member of the AIR engineering team, presented a session titled “What’s Coming in AIR 2″ that provided a more detailed sneak peak of some of the upcoming features of the AIR runtime (stay tuned — we will soon be posting a recording of Christian’s talk).
After shipping AIR 1.0, many of developers challenged us to open the runtime up even more by, for example, allowing communication with native processes and providing enhanced networking support. With AIR 2, our goal from the outset was to remove limitations in the runtime that prevented developers from building their applications.
Some of the capabilities that are coming in AIR 2 include:
- Native process API
Beginning with AIR 2, developers will have access to a native process API that will enable applications to invoke and communicate with native applications on the local machine. In order to preserve the cross platform nature of the .air file format, applications that take advantage of the native process API must be deployed as native installers such as .exe and .dmg. The AIR runtime SDK will include support for generating basic native installers.
- Support for detecting mass storage devices
Now your AIR application can detect when a mass storage device is connected or disconnected. An AIR 2 application can listen for when a user plugs in a Flip video camera or USB Flash drive so that it can, for example, automatically synchronize files to the local system or prompt the user to upload photos to Facebook or videos to YouTube.
- Improved support for accessibility
Runtime dialogs such as the installer dialogs will be readable by supported screen readers such as JAWS. In addition, it will be possible to build accessible Flash-based applications in AIR leveraging the existing accessibility API’s and features available in the Flash Player and Flex SDK.
- Open document API
Support for opening a document will be possible from an AIR application. With this API, AIR asks the operating system what the default application is associated with the file. For example, specifying a file path to a PDF file will launch Adobe Reader or a .doc file will open Microsoft Word.
- Improved performance
Applications that run using AIR 2 will consume less memory and use less CPU than AIR 1.5 without recompiling the application. We will share more information about this when we launch the beta.
- Local microphone access API
Currently, audio must first pass through a server before it can be saved locally. Using the upcoming AIR 2 local microphone API, it will be possible to record audio locally, which can be important if your application is running in a disconnected mode.
- Multi-touch & gesture support
AIR 2 will include support for multi-touch (Windows 7) and gestures (Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6).
- Faster, more powerful WebKit
- Improved socket support
It will now be possible to create local servers and lightweight P2P applications with enhancements to AIR’s socket support.
In the coming weeks leading up to the beta, we will begin sharing more information including videos, articles and blog posts about some of these new capabilities. We are extremely eager to get the public beta into your hands so that we can begin incorporating your feedback.
We expect to ship a beta version of Adobe AIR 2 on Adobe Labs by the end of the year. In the first half of 2010, we expect to ship the final version of AIR 2.