Adobe has announced the release of Flash Player 11, the latest big update to its popular platform. The headliner for this release is Adobe's hardware accelerated 3D technology, dubbed Stage 3D, which will enable developers to create much more powerful and great-looking games on Flash.
Another big addition is support for 64-bit architectures on all supported platforms. This means that you'll finally be able to use Adobe Flash Player on 64-bit operating systems and, more importantly, on 64-bit browsers.
"There are lots of new features in Flash Player 11 and AIR 3, and one of the newest features that’s getting a lot of buzz is hardware accelerated 2D and 3D graphics rendering through Stage 3D, which will be available on Mac OS, Windows and connected televisions," Adobe announced.
Flash Player 11 introduces Stage 3D, a hardware accelerated graphics API
Adobe is very determined to bring 3D gaming to its platform and has put quite a lot of effort in the Stage 3D API. It's also creating several additional tools, like a 3D framework and resources for game developers.
Stage 3D is the culmination of the Molehill project. It leverages the processing power of the GPU to accelerate content, for both 2D and 3D graphics.
This provides a massive performance boost in some cases and enables truly fast detailed 2D graphics and 3D graphics that are on par with native games.
Adobe is baking heavily on gaming, and probably for good reason. It hopes that Flash continues to be the platform of choice for social games, on Facebook and more recently on Google+, but also on mobile devices, those that support Flash anyway, meaning not iOS devices.
Given that WebGL is far from being a turn-key solution for developers, Flash is probably going to gain some interest in its 3D graphics technology, at least on the desktop, for the short-term future.
64-bit versions available for all desktop platforms
Adobe Flash Player 11 finally comes with a 64-bit version. Many years after the first 64-bit CPUs became available to regular users, Adobe is supporting them. It's an important move since Flash Player is installed on most of the internet-connected computers in the world.
Adobe had experimented with a 64-bit version of Flash Player for Linux, but retired it earlier this year. Now it's offering one for all supported desktop platforms, Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
H.264 encoding, native support for JSON
Flash Player 11 also comes with a few more low-key new features that are important none the less. Applications built on Flash can now encode video streams from cameras in the H.264/AVC video format, for better compression and quality.
There is also support for G.711 audio compression for telephony which will enable apps built on Flash to integrate with existing phone systems.
Web developers will also appreciate the new, native support for JSON meaning that they'll be able to import and incorporate JSON data into Flash-built apps and manipulate it with ActionScript with very few hurdles.
Adobe Flash Player for Windows is available for download here.
Adobe Flash Player for Mac OS X is available for download here.
Adobe Flash Player for Linux is available for download here.