Adobe Issues Dev Challenge and Unleashes AIR 3, Flash 11 Betas

Adobe and Sony teamed up to sponsor a contest for developers to build Adobe AIR apps for upcoming Android-based Sony tablets. Adobe also launched betas of AIR 3 and Flash Player 11.

Adobe is calling on developers to build compelling Adobe AIR apps, as well as to take part in the beat programs for Adobe AIR 3 and Flash Player 11.

In a July 13 post, Adobe and Sony announced the Adobe AIR App Challenge, a competition sponsored by Sony.

"We're looking to get some great AIR apps on Android Market optimized for the two 'Sony Tablet' models coming out this fall," said Craig Corica, social media director at Adobe.

The contest will give developers selected as finalists prerelease access to "Sony Tablet" prototypes along with the latest version of Adobe tools and AIR. The categories for the App Challenge include Entertainment, Lifestyle & Community, Games, Business & Productivity, and Innovation. Only 80 finalist slots are available. Developers can submit apps starting now until Oct. 10 for the first round of the competition. Final app submissions are due and must be available on Android Market by Nov. 11.

Corica also said Sony will be a platinum sponsor for Adobe MAX, Adobe's annual conference kicking off in Los Angeles on Oct. 1. Visit the Adobe AIR App Challenge site for details and deadlines. Due to the need for early access to prerelease prototypes, the contest is only open to submissions from the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the U.K.

Adobe also announced the availability of the Adobe AIR 3 beta and the Adobe Flash Player 11 beta for desktop platforms on Adobe Labs. AIR and Flash Player continue to drive innovation for rich, engaging digital experiences with new features for cross-device stand-alone application development and expressive rich Internet applications, games and videos in the browser, Adobe officials said. And some of the features from the Flash Player Incubator, such as Stage 3D and 64-bit support, have been moved into this beta release. Developers can test and provide feedback on the new features, and should also focus on testing existing content for compatibility and stability.

According to a July 13 blog post by Emmy Huang, senior product manager for Adobe Flash Player, key features and performance enhancements in the Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 betas include:

  • Captive Runtime for AIR: This popular feature from AIR for iOS will now be available on AIR for desktop. You can simplify the app installation process, and reduce testing and certification cost by encapsulating the AIR runtime in your Windows, Mac and Android apps.
  • Native 64-bit support for Flash Player: Take advantage of new 64-bit operating systems and 64-bit Web browsers on Linux, Mac OS and Windows.
  • Stage 3D graphics rendering: Stage 3D ("Molehill") is a new method of 2D and 3D rendering and is supported with a new Stage 3D API. The Stage 3D API is a set of low-level GPU-accelerated APIs enabling advanced 2D and 3D capabilities across multiple screens and devices (desktop, mobile and TV). These new low-level APIs will provide 2D and 3D engine developers with the flexibility to leverage GPU hardware acceleration for significant performance gains. Examples can be viewed on the Stage 3D page.
  • H.264/AVC SW Encode for camera encoding: Higher compression efficiency and industry-wide support for real-time communications and non-real-time broadcast scenarios, like Webcasting, livecasting, etc.
  • Native JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) support: Enables ActionScript programmers to take advantage of fast parsing and generation of JSON-formatted data. Existing data can be taken and integrated with minimal or no modification into an ActionScript project.

Adobe also announced a new public bugbase system where developers can file bugs and feature requests for both Flash Player and AIR. The new bugbase is a public front end to Adobe's internal bugbase, which will improve tracking, communication and responsiveness for issues and feature requests. The former bugbase will remain as read-only, and Adobe is in the process of transferring over all relevant issues and feature requests to the new system, the company said.

Moreover, Adobe is bringing 3D to the Web in Flash Player and apps through AIR, Huang said.

"Because two of our primary design goals were to ensure Stage 3D will run great on mobile devices without compromising security, the Stage 3D implementation exposes a specific set of GPU features, resulting in a small API surface, making it easier to secure," Huang said in her post. "We also added restrictions that help mitigate many of the security concerns around accessing OpenGL. For instance, we limit the number of calls per frame, minimizing the risk of denial-of-service attacks. We also designed a simple shader language (AGAL - Adobe Graphics Assembly Language) with restrictions such as prohibiting loops or functions inside shaders. The simplicity of AGAL makes it also easy to verify and validate compared to the GLSL [OpenGL Shading Language] dialect that is used by other solutions like WebGL."

This first beta is a desktop release, and Adobe is hard at work on mobile, which will be coming soon, Huang said.