Flash may have died a slow and agonizing death on Android, but it did not depart without leaving its heir apparent. Adobe's lighter-weight successor was built to better handle touchscreen interfaces, lower power processors, and to support applications living independently from a web browser. While the platform hasn't been a high-flying success on Android or iOS, it does play host to a few popular games like Machinarium. Exactly three years and one day after first appearing on the Android Market, Air has been updated to v3.9 and now includes support for multi-threading, background tasks, and xxhdpi icons.
The list of new features for version 3.9 is relatively short, even more so after filtering out the items specific to Mac and iOS. However, the additions are pretty significant for Android, as this is the first version of AIR to include multi-threading on a mobile platform. Adobe first introduced multi-threading to the Flash Player / AIR platform just over a year ago (yes, seriously) under the name "Workers." At the time, this high-level threading feature was limited to desktop operating systems. With the latest update, the Worker class is now available as a beta feature on Android, along with a promise that iOS will see the same treatment in an upcoming release.
Another benefit of the update comes to apps that rely on Direct Rending Mode, which is often used by games and other graphically intensive applications. Previously, apps running in this mode were paused or terminated when sent to the background on Android or iOS, posing a tough challenge for apps that had to keep running like music players, navigation, or VoIP. This restriction has been removed, allowing apps to stay awake if necessary.
Rounding out the list of improvements is support for XXHDPI icons, meaning owners of very high resolution devices like the Nexus 10 and HTC One can finally enjoy crisp icons suited for their displays. Naturally, developers will have to release updates to their apps with the additional resources, but that should be a minor inconvenience.
As AIR grows up and continues to add new features, we can probably expect it to also grow in popularity. Developers looking to take advantage of the latest features can pick up the SDK directly from Adobe's download page. Regular users will probably want to update the AIR app from the Google Play Store to take advantage of a few regular bug fixes and to be prepared for apps that leverage the new capabilities.