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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.

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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.

Source: Adobe

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • chriscarver

    Support for multi threading? Gosh, so quick with updates...said no one ever.

  • Thomas’

    Cocktail Flow is the only app I'm using which is based Air.

    And I don't think that many will follow - creating Flash applications is a skill which is thankfully dying out.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

      I want to agree with you, I would like to think that there won't be very many AIR apps to come, but I don't think that will be the case. Sadly, AIR is lighter weight than Java (no pun intended), and it even runs on more operating systems (well, one more: iOS). It's cheaper to use on mobile than the only other major cross-platform alternative, Mono. And worst of all, there's a metric ton of Flash developers that don't want to relearn everything on another platform, so they will take the easy way out and slide right over to AIR instead of learning HTML5 like they should*. :)

      * No, I don't think HTML5 is ready to reproduce most of the stuff AIR is good for. I'm just having fun with the HTML5 purists.

      • Thomas’

        You mean a ton of Flash developers which are now unemployed, because nobody hires them for websites anymore?

        Well, at least they can profit from this.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          I was trying to gently dance around the subject of employment status :)

          Hey, somebody must be maintaining all of those Facebook games. Until that trend dies off, there will still be a job for a lot of 'em. As the popularity dies off and HTML5 starts to become a truly viable replacement, those developers will have AIR to grab on to (pun intended this time).

          • Thomas’

            Damn, this name is just screaming for puns.

      • Bob Smith

        Sadly, you sound like an unformed fool. Do you know anything about Flash/Flex development? I can tell you my friend a good Flash developer, A) develops content that can outperform most major HTML5 implementations of the same thing, and B) Has more skill than required to easily slide over to HTML5. If you look at HTML5-based apps compared to AIR-based apps, if there is any complexity of all the AIR app will kill the HTML app in terms of performance.

        You should be comparing AIR apps to native apps, but you're not bright enough for that. And learning Objective-C or Java isn't all that difficult for any developer of any other language.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          You hit the trifecta. You didn't respond/refute anything I actually said, you set up a couple of strawman arguments, and you were personally insulting and condescending.

          Please try re-reading. I specifically credited AIR for having better performance than Java, I clearly stated HTML5 was unsuitable for many of the things AIR is good at, and I never criticized the intellect or skill of Flash developers, but stated that they will logically move towards AIR for all of the reasons I just mentioned.

    • Adrian Meredith

      photoshop touch uses it, thats why its performance is garbage

  • Spasillium

    I love reading the reviews on this and Samsung Push Service.

    • Leonardo Rojas

      Are the reviews sarcastic? I find them quite funny, but can't really realize. Is Adobe Air useful at all? I don't play any Flash game :/
      Do you know?

  • Matthew Fry

    What?!? Android got it before iOS?!? More exclamation points and question marks?!?

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