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Adobe AIR 2.5 adds Flash to Android, TV and RIM tablets

App store middleman unveiled

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Adobe MAX 2010 Adobe today announces AIR 2.5, which will enable Flash-based applications and services for Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung 'smart' TVs.

Preview editions of the next Flex Framework, Adobe's Flash Builder design and development environment, the Flash Catalyst design tool, and version 2.5 of its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) are due at Adobe's annual MAX conference in Los Angeles, with final code pencilled for sometime in 2011.

Smart TVs from Samsung, also due next year, will work with applications built using Flex and Flash tools and made available for sale and download to TVs from Samsung's TV App Store. This will run outside the browser on TV sets.

Adobe is working with Microsoft to deliver AIR on Windows Phone 7, Adobe told The Reg. The company missed a cut-off date for the release of Microsoft's latest mobile operating system, launched this month.

Flex Framework and Flash Builder will be updated to work on Apple's tablet-tastic iOS in an unspecified follow-on release, but Flex Catalyst won't follow suit.

Adobe said it picked the BlackBerry tablet because RIM is being very aggressive and "really wants to get into the game".

Adobe and Apple had a major falling out in 2010, as Steve Jobs lambasted Flash, championed HTML5 as the Flash alternative, and went to extraordinary lengths to confuse developers and exclude Flash from the iPad.

As it now stands, Flash can cross-compile on iOS, but Adobe must use native code for the runtime on Apple. On non-Apple devices, AIR is the runtime.

One warehouse to serve 'em all

Adobe will today unveil InMarket - a service that enables developers to upload apps to sell onto other providers' stores.

InMarket will take care of deployment and billing, and provide an accounting break down of where their applications have sold.

The idea is that developers will code their applications once and they won't need to worry about difference service providers deployment characteristics or dealing with billing and payment systems, Adobe said.

The service also means Adobe can remain relevant in a world of app stores, as the company becomes the holder of hundreds of thousands of apps in its warehouse.

Intel's App Up Store is to be the first store to work with InMarket and Adobe expects to run 10 more stores across desktops, mobiles, tablets, and TVs in 2011, David Gruber, group product marketing manager for Flex and Flash Builder, told The Reg. Adobe's middleman service will initially only work for AIR-based apps and will be free initially, Gruber said. Other apps would be considered later, and Adobe will re-evaluate whether to charge in a year,.

One app store is, of course, unlikely to participate in Adobe's warehouse-retail model: Apple's App Store. Apple is not in talks with Adobe to use the service.

"I'm not sure frankly that will happen, Apple isn't motivated to do this," Gruber said.

He noted that Apple isn't the only big app store player in the game, and Adobe will counter by giving developers access to as many app stores as possible.

Up in the AIR

Adobe is going big on mobile and TV in this round of releases, as it tries to take its Flash player and the Flash-based AIR to more screens than just those found on a PC. Adobe's hope is that more Flash-based apps can be written-once and run-anywhere using the same framework.

AIR 2.5 adds support for mobile to help this. Phone staples such as accelerometers, multi-touch, gesture, geo-location, and cameras have been exposed in the Flex framework and made easier to access. New mobile UI components have been added and application performance tweaked by between 40 and 60 per cent depending on the application and handset. Performance has been improved by "thinning" the number of libraries in AIR.

Flash Builder features a new packaging function to deploy apps to different mobile devices. Adobe is also working with handset makers and OEMs to make AIR run well on their hardware. The company has promised its AIR on HTC, Motorola, and Acer systems, in addition to RIM and Samsung.

For developers, Flash Builder and Catalyst have bi-directional workflow to pass code and design elements backwards and forwards been creatives and coders.

Also continuing the focus on mobile is Adobe's LiveCycle, which has been extended to Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Mobile. LiveCycle is Adobe's suite for building and customizing business-applications' workflows, so - conceivably - you can now use Adobe to run back-office documents and apps on mobile in addition to the PC.

LiveCycle enterprise Suite 2.5, due Monday, will connect to Microsoft's SharePoint 2010 through a new connector, and work with your security model to control who views, copies, or forwards documents. Also, there's a new JavaScript API so Adobe's software works on platforms that work with HTML but not Flash - like the iPhone or iPad. ®

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