Mobile application development in Adobe AIR

7. január 2014 | projects, technology

Maybe you have heard about it, or maybe you have just seen the name. In any case, the younger but smarter brother of Adobe Flash is worth considering, if you want to develop apps for several platforms simultaneously.

Adobe AIR is a tool for application development across different platforms. It currently supports Windows, Mac OS, as well as the more interesting mobile platforms such as iOS and Android (distribution possible standardly via App Store and Google Play). The development can take place in Adobe Flash/Flex, and a major advantage is that a practically identical code can be used for all platforms. Thus, the development cost of mobile apps for iOS and Android, for example, is significantly lower than having to develop the app in its native form for individual platforms.

Also, the same code is suitable for websites using the good old flash player, which is still dominant with internet games. Furthermore, if we already know that a game may be ported to mobile platforms in the coding stage, we can prepare it so that the cost of the transition is as low as possible.

Support of specific functions of devices

For each supported platform, there are libraries available to support the basic native device features. Thus, iOS and Android devices can use different functions in the same way, including camera, device position detection using GPS (geolocation), microphone, or accelerometer. Windows and Mac OS operating systems allow access to local files, use functions such as minimizing or opening multiple windows, access to the menu of the application, support of native internet browser, etc.

In addition to supported native features directly from Adobe, Adobe AIR 3.0 allows to develop custom extensions (Adobe AIR extensions) for all supported platforms, what moved the developing possibilities another step forward. If you lack direct functionality support from Adobe, you can program the native support yourself, provided you know the programming language of the desired platform, as well as ActionScript. You can also use free or paid extensions from other developers, the number of which is constantly growing.

Benefits of this type of development

In comparison with other mobile app developing environments (such as PhoneGap), the benefit of Adobe AIR is the option to optimize the performance and use a graphic processing unit (GPU) as needed. Currently, Adobe AIR even supports full hardware graphics acceleration through Stage3D, enabling the development of 3D games and apps that display fully through the GPU, making them work as fast as native apps.

Another noteworthy benefit is the fact that whereas the entire app must be transformed into its native form with export to iOS (Apple system requirement), with other platforms, the code just needs to be precompiled and requires an installation of Adobe AIR to make it run.

Our experience

We've been using Adobe Flash and more recently Adobe Air for developing for quite a long time now, and prepared our first app (Byetta) for iOS/iPad (the first version of the device) back in 2011, when an export for this platform was considered innovative. Since then, we prepared several apps as well as games and learned to utilize the options and advantages that Adobe AIR provides.

If you intend to create a game or an app with appealing graphics that is exportable and available across different platforms for a reasonable price, do not hesitate to contact us.