Adobe just gave us a summer present to play with – new runtimes! The Flash Player 11 beta is fully featured, containing all you need to get started. The AIR beta is limited to just the runtime (no SDK) and is provided only to test existing content.
You can grab Flash Player 11 from this page and there you’ll also find the playerglobal. swc file that you’ll need to make it work with Flash Builder. Among the features you’ll find in the beta are several things from the Incubator release that has been on Labs for quite some time, as well as several new features as well.
Simple but solid stuff like DisplayObjectContainer. removeChildren and MovieClip. isPlaying will be great for the novice coder. For the more advanced, there are things like Cubic Bezier curves, software encoding of H.264 for camera video, a new audio codec for telephony services in your apps, asynchronous bitmap decoding that does not lock up the UI, better JPG support, improved swf compression and a bunch of other features. Check out the full list of new features here or read Thibault Imberts extensive summary.
The fragmentation on Linux (lack of standardized libraries) often makes it hard for Adobe to deliver the Flash-premise of author once, play everywhere. Linux users will be happy to see that Flash Player 11 is full 64 bit and they also finally get Vector Printing something that has been available on other platforms “for ages”. Adobe recently got quite a bit of negative comments for discontinuing the development of AIR for Linux desktops, so it’s good to see that at least the browser plugin is still a first class citizen.
As mentioned initially, the AIR 3 beta is initially delivered only as a runtime (no SDK) so you can’t author content for it. This will be provided at a later time, but if you have a good AIR project going, you’ll probably be allowed into the private AIR beta as good beta testers with solid projects are (from what we hear) always welcome.