Some days ago Adobe released Beta 2 of AIR 3.0 and Flash Player 11 on Adobe Lab.
If you have any free time, I suggest you should download this new beta and start playing around with the new features.
In particular, AIR 3.0 SDK and AIR 3 runtime will be a major release that will bring some great new features, including hardware accelerated video playback for mobile, iOS background audio, Android licensing support, front-facing camera support, encrypted local storage for mobile, H.264 software encoding for desktop applications, and captive runtime support for desktop and Android applications.
Flash Player 11 has got some very good features too, most including Stage3D and native JSON support (both features are also available in AIR 3.0, but Stage3D will be currently available for desktop only. Stage3D for mobile will be enabled in a future release).
AIR applications are at present deployed on Android and desktop but require the 3rd-party Adobe AIR runtime.
So, one of the paramount features that I’m really excited about is captive runtime.
This feature is definitely the ability to add the AIR runtime to your installer package, and all necessary components of the AIR framework are bundled into a self-contained, compiled distributable application that has no dependence upon other frameworks. This is something that was available for iOS platform from day one and if you are familiar with the process for developing mobile AIR applications for Apple’s iOS devices, you know that these applications don’t require the 3rd-party runtime.
I think this is a really very important feature for AIR. At last we have a solution for the users to install AIR applications without administrator rights. This is a great scenario particularly in the enterprise environments where users don’t have proper privileges or many policies. Also, there is a significant improvement in the user experience, especially when you need to distribute your application on different media that don’t let you use browser based badge installers.
With AIR 3.0, when you are exporting a release build, there is a new choice and you have the option to bundle the AIR framework into your applications to eliminate the 3rd-party dependency. The final result will be a compiled application that requires no 3rd party components.
One important thing to know is that you can’t target native installers or bundled runtimes for cross-platform development and deployment. So obviously you can only export Mac application packages for Macs and Windows EXEs for Windows ☺. You can only have a single app that targets both platforms if you export an .AIR file (which requires the 3rd-party AIR runtime).
For Android mobile applications it is the same. Chose the option “Export application with embedded AIR runtime”, and the end result will be an APK file that has the runtime embedded.
Now, how do you package the app or use the new features? Simple! The first thing you need to do is to download and unzip the new SDK from Adobe Lab.