Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1 And AIR 2.0 – Both Include Multi-touch Support

A mere week after Adobe Systems reported that it would be shedding nearly 700 employees or 9% of its total worldwide workforce, the company is releasing two highly anticipated new products that have been in the works for a while: Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0.

Both of the products are being released with a ‘beta’ label at the same time for all 3 major operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux) and x86-based netbooks, and are available now via Adobe Labs.

Update: sorry, we unintentionally – no, really – jumped the gun on this one. The links to the products are now live: Flash Player and AIR.

People who were still hoping for a beta release of the new Flash Player for mobile will be somewhat disappointed by the fact that they’ll have to exercise even more patience.

But first things first.

Both the new Flash Player for desktop browsers and the latest iteration of the rather popular cross-platform runtime environment for desktop apps were announced in the beginning of October and previewed at the recent Adobe MAX 2009 event (see video below). That means there aren’t too many surprises left with regards to what the upgraded versions bring, so we’ll just give you a quick run-down.

Both Adobe AIR 2 and Flash Player 10.1:

– boast support for multi-touch and gestures (yes, you’d need a machine with a touch screen)
– include a global error handler, which enables devs to write a single handler to process all runtime errors
– (finally) support local microphone access, so you’ll no longer need to first pass through a server in order to record audio locally on both Flash Platform runtimes

Adobe Flash Player 10.1 now also leverages hardware decoding of H.264 video on Windows PCs, netbooks and mobile devices.

Want all that goodness on your mobile phone, too? Hold your horses: while a public beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for Palm webOS is expected later this year, Google Android support is expected no sooner than early 2010, and support for Blackberry smartphones will likely take even more time to be added.

Also new in Adobe AIR 2.0 and worthy of a mention:

– Native process API: enables apps to communicate with native applications on local machines
– Mass storage device detection: plug in your Flip camera or that USB stick you got as a gift at the last conference you attended, and AIR 2 applications will be able to detect them
– Open document API: with it, AIR apps can ‘ask’ the OS what the default application is associated with files and function accordingly
– Improved socket support: think AIR-powered local servers and P2P apps
– Speedier WebKit: updated version that includes a faster JavaScript engine and new HTML5/CSS3 capabilities

(Original image via Ryan Stewart)