Adobe has released today the newest version of its popular Flash Player, Flash 10 (Code named project "Astro") in beta testing mode. The upgrade is one of the most visually advanced and is the first version of Flash to support hardware acceleration from graphics chipsets.
The previous version and current public release, Flash 9, was the first to support H.264.
There are a ton of new features being offered with this release and it is clear that Adobe is working hard to ensure that the Flash Player's dominance over competitors like Microsoft Silverlight and JavaFX continues. Adobe does, however, claim a greater than 98% market share dominance.
One new feature of this new version is that it allows the option of variable-bitrate video that automatically drops quality to maintain constant playback.
Other features include a wide range of motion graphics and effects:
- Adobe Pixel Bender - This is very cool. You can create your own filters, blend modes, and fills.
- 3D Effects is a new feature added which allows users to create simple, fully interactive 3D animations. It is extremely fast and easy to use.
- Advanced Text Layout - A new, highly flexible text layout engine, co-existing with TextField, enables innovation in creating new text controls by providing low-level access to text offering right-to-left and vertical text layout, plus support for typographic elements like ligatures.
- Enhanced Drawing API - Runtime drawing is easier and more powerful with re-styleable properties, 3D APIs, and a new way of drawing sophisticated shapes without having to code them line by line.
Flash Player 10 will run on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Mac OS X and Linux. It will not, however, support Mac OS 10
Adobe said that some of the new features in Flash Player 10 will ultimately be incorporated into a future release of Adobe AIR and the Open Screen Project, Adobe's movement to create industry consensus around Flash-based technologies for mobile devices.
Hopefully, the developer tools will be coming soon so that the Flex/Flash/AIR developer community can really dig in and give it a go.
Adobe expects to ship a final version of Flash Player 10 later this year, and also plans for the new features to find their way into AIR in a future release.