In what appears to be an on-purpose release of MAX related announcements ahead of the event which starts today in LA, Adobe have announced the latest version of Flash Player: version 10.1. Do not let yourself be fooled by the .1 release as this version is much more than just another point release, it is a huge upgrade to Flash and the entire platform, touching many parts and in particular mobile and media delivery. Justin Everett-Church has a great breakdown of all the new features.
I'm not quite sure where to start, but I'll have a try:
Flash Player 10.1 can be labeled as a 'real' fully featured Flash Player for mobile. It contains a lot of optimisations as well as new APIs that are directly aimed at breaking open the mobile device market for Flash - I think it's safe to say that the time for Flash on mobile has finally come.
Flash Lite was always somewhat of a watered down version of the real thing, and its install and launch process was not the most user friendly. Now that devices are becoming more powerful it's possible to bring a real Flash Player to mobiles. This means that rather than being a standalone Player into which you load a SWF you will be able to access web pages with embedded SWFs as you normally would on your desktop.
The new Player contains a lot of features that take device constraints into consideration, for example it includes performance improvements such as rendering, scripting, memory, start-up time, battery and CPU optimizations, in addition to hardware acceleration of graphics and video. Improvements in memory utilization and management, start-up time, CPU usage, and rendering/scripting performance benefit PCs as well as mobile devices. Flash Player 10.1 is new in that way - it is no longer just a desktop player, nor is it specially developed for mobile. Instead it combines the two and contains optimisations for mobile device playback.
HTTP Streaming Support
In Flash Player 10.1, you will also be able to load video through HTTP Streaming, which lets you take a video and convert it into many fragments that Flash Player can download individually with the help of new components. These fragments can be stored on any web server and do not require specialized hardware. This solution provides a greater amount of random access to the video than progressive loading does.
Hardware Acceleration, Multi-touch and more
Thrown in with the mobile and Flash Player related news are a bunch of other items which directly affect Flash's video features, such as hardware acceleration for pretty much any audio/video playback, without requiring fullscreen playback. Vector shapes and images can also use hardware acceleration, making mobile device playback in particular a lot smoother. The browser-based runtime leverages the power of the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for accelerated video and graphics while conserving battery life and minimizing resource utilization. New mobile-ready features that take advantage of native device capabilities include support for multi-touch, gestures, mobile input models, accelerometer and screen orientation bringing unprecedented creative control and expressiveness to the mobile browsing experience.
Improvements have also been announced to FMS which will see an update to 3.5.3 later this month. If a user loses the network connection or switches among different networks, Flash Media Server and Flash Player will renegotiate the stream while the video keeps playing from the buffer. When the connection is re-established, the new connection continues filling up the buffer right where it left off, meaning no interruption in the video experience. To give users even more control, Flash Player 10.1 lets them seek within the existing buffer without causing the player to rebuffer the video. This includes a new trailing buffer that keeps the video you've just watched in memory so that going back to see something you missed doesn't mean having to wait.
Since RTMFP is 'just' the name of a new protocol I think it flies under the radar of a lot of tech blogs as well as Flash Developers. But let me assure you that it could be one of the most disruptive new features for Flash Player yet. We already know that there will be a bunch of sessions at Adobe MAX covering RTFMP, and we've also heard this morning about a new feature within RTFMP called groups. This will allow you to send P2P based messages to a specific group of people within a Flash Player P2P mesh, and it will open the door for a lot of real-time collaborative applications. The implications of RTFMP for live video broadcasts (amongst other things) are huge and we saw some sneak peaks of that at MAX last year. Keep your eye on RTMFP, it'll be huge.
There is more to report than that such as the release of ColdFusion 9, the release and rebranding of Adobe Flash Collaboration Service to Adobe LiveCycle Collaboration Service (pricing for it has also been announced) plus public beta drops for Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst.
You can see a full list of Adobe Press Releases here - and this is likely to grow over the next few days...