As Adobe has focused on Flash Player development in the aftermath of the rise of HTML5, it hasn't ignored its other content-delivery system: Adobe AIR. AIR 3 brings some hefty speed improvements to the system, thanks to a little something new called Stage3D.
In case you're new to AIR, which stands for Adobe Integrated Runtime, it's a platform that runs applications across multiple systems without coding in more than one language. It's powerful and respected for giving people the same end-user experience, whether on Windows, Mac, or Linux. One very well-known AIR app is TweetDeck. If you try to install an AIR app without having previously installed AIR, you'll be automatically prompted to download it.
Stage3D brings combined hardware-accelerated 2D and 3D graphics rendering that's up to 1,000 times faster than previous versions of AIR. Although it's only for desktops at the time of writing, Adobe promises that it will soon take Stage3D to its mobile apps. The advancements offered by Stage3D should bring far more complex graphics development for the player, and allow some developers to use it as a viable alternative for their projects, especially for cross-platform efforts. It includes more support for Android devices including software licensing and hardware, captive runtime support for developers to bundle AIR along with their programs (removing the requirement to separately install AIR), and native extensions for enhancing AIR's capabilities.
AIR has allowed developers to make hybrid applications, or desktop tools that can integrate with various Web services, while still allowing some offline functionality that Web browsers don't yet have. This includes things like taskbar and dock notifications. With these latest updates, Adobe is really improving AIR as an alternative development environment and maintaining its relevance on the Web.