Perspective on the AIR 2.7 Release

Yesterday we shipped the AIR 2.7 release. Although a relatively minor release in the grand scheme of things, this one is an important milestone for the Flash Runtime. It marks the culmination of an enormous effort over the past two years to bring AIR to mobile devices.

It has not been a straightforward path. Our first work targeted the first generation iPhone, which included a couple of major challenges. First we had to craft an alternate compilation strategy for ActionScript, since using just-in-time compilation, our usual strategy, was not permitted. Then we had to try to achieve reasonable performance on what was a slow device.

Further bumps along the way included scrambling to support the iPad, being forced off of iOS entirely, and switching our focus to the quickly-evolving Android platform. For all their similarities, Android and iOS often taken different approaches under the covers which made, and continues to make, the creation of cross-platform APIs a real challenge.

Of course, bringing AIR to iOS and Android wasn’t simply a matter of porting the code, either. We also added a variety of new APIs to accommodate the different features found in mobile devices. That list includes major additions like Geolocation, Accelerometer, CameraUI, CameraRoll, and StageWebView. Smaller enhancements supported screen orientation, soft keyboards, and other mobile-specific capabilities.

For me, the 2.7 release brings us to an important milestone. AIR is now clearly a viable platform for building applications across the PlayBook, Android, and iOS, with thousands of AIR-based applications available in various marketplaces. We’ve rounded out a basic set of mobile-specific APIs, and, with the iOS performance enhancements in this release, eliminated performance as a barrier to adoption. Moving to mobile was a mad scramble; now we’re there.

With 2.7 out the door, we’re shifting our attention from merely moving to mobile to pushing the envelope. That AIR is a cross-platform runtime is no reason for us to compromise on capabilities, performance, or tools, and you’ll see that in our upcoming releases. The technologies that will drive the next generation of AIR are already in the works, running here behind closed doors.¬†We look forward to sharing these with you in the months to come.