Adobe AIR is a runtime environment that allows Adobe Flash content and ActionScript 3.0 code to construct applications and video games that run outside a web browser, and behave as a native application on supported platforms. An application developed for Flash Player or HTML5 and deployed in a browser does not require installation, while AIR applications requires installation from an installer file (Windows and OS X) or the appropriate App Store (iOS and Android). AIR applications have unrestricted access to local storage and file systems, while browser-based applications only have access to individual files selected by users.
Adobe AIR internally uses the Flash Player rendering engine, and ActionScript 3.0 as the primary programming language. Flash applications must specifically be built for Adobe AIR to use additional features provided, such as multi-touch, file system integration, native client extensions, integration with Taskbar or Dock, and access to accelerometer and GPS devices. HTML5 applications may run on the WebKitengine included in AIR.
Using AIR, developers can access the full Adobe Flash functionality, including text, vector graphics, raster graphics, video, audio, camera and microphone capability. Adobe AIR also includes additional features such as file system integration, native client extensions, desktop integration and access to connected devices. AIR enables applications to work with data in different ways, including using local files, local SQLite databases (for which AIR has built-in support), a database server, or the encrypted local store included with AIR.
Developers can access additional functionality by building AIR Native Extensions, which can access full device functionality being programmed in the native language.
In 2011, the addition of Stage3D to the Flash Player allowed Flash and AIR apps access to GPUs for hardware acceleration. Several third-party frameworks have been developed to build upon the functionality of Stage3D, including the Starling Framework and Away3D. These frameworks are also compatible with AIR, and provide vital performance improvements to AIR apps published for mobile devices.
AIR apps can be augmented in functionality with the usage of AIR Native Extensions (ANEs). Native extensions are plug-in code libraries that contain native code wrapped with an ActionScript API, allowing developers to access native features not otherwise usable in AIR, such as Apple Game Center or Google Cloud Messaging.
Native extensions may be developed by anyone using publicly available tools; some are distributed for free or even as open source, while others are sold commercially.
Native extensions may be programmed in the native language on each platform, allowing access to the full set of platform APIs provided by the developer. (C++ for Windows, Java for Android, Objective C for iOS).
AIR is a cross-platform technology and AIR applications can be repackaged with few or no changes for many popular desktop and mobile platforms. Different installation options exist for each platform.
AIR applications may be published with or without the AIR runtime. Applications packaged with the AIR runtime are larger in file size, and are known as "captive runtime" applications. If the runtime is not embedded in the app, it must be installed separately.
In January 2009, Adobe claimed that there were over 100 million installations of Adobe AIR worldwide, and that "the majority of AIR runtime installations occur at the time the first AIR application is installed by a user". In May 2014, Adobe claimed that over 100,000 unique applications were built on AIR, and over 1 billion installations of the same were logged from users across the world.
The latest version of Adobe AIR, version 3, contains Adobe Flash Player 11, and is available for Windows XP and later, as well as OS X. Official support for desktop Linux distributions ceased in June 2011 with version 2.6.
The AIR SDK is available as a free standalone download for software developers to make AIR applications. SDK users do not need to install any commercial software to use the SDK, although several options are available. AIR apps can be compiled from the command line using the AIR compiler included in the SDK; the compiler can also be called from an IDE to obviate the need for the command line.
AIR can also be used with Adobe Flex. Flex is an integrated collection of stylable graphical user interface, data manipulation and networking components, and applications built upon it are known as "Flex" applications. Flex GUIs are defined in MXML, similar to how Android and Microsoft Visual Studio define GUIs; however, Flex does not give access to native GUI components.
AIR applications built without the Flex framework allow greater flexibility and performance, and are known as "pure ActionScript" applications. Video games built on the AIR platform are typically pure-Actionscript projects. Various open-source component frameworks are available for pure ActionScript projects, such as MadComponents, that provide UI Components at significantly smaller SWF file sizes.
Dreamweaver CS4/CS3 requires an additional extension to compile AIR applications, as does Flash CS3 in the form of an update.
"Apollo" 1.0 Betas Adobe made a public preview release of AIR (then called Apollo) along with a software development kit (SDK) and extension for developing Apollo applications with the Flex framework, on March 19, 2007.
On June 10, 2007, Apollo was renamed to AIR and a public beta release of the runtime was launched. Public beta 2 of AIR SDK was released on October 1, 2007. Public beta 3, was released on December 12, 2007.
Adobe AIR 1.0 Version 1.0 of the Adobe AIR runtime and SDK was released on February 25, 2008.
Adobe AIR 1.1 Version 1.1 of Adobe AIR was released on June 16, 2008. This release included a number of new features including:
Additional languages including Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish
Ability to localize the name, description local database error messages of the application
A new option that allows an application to be updated from an old certificate to a new one while preserving the identity of the application (for example from a self-signed certificate to a chained certificate)
A new property for detecting the space available on a drive
A new property for detecting whether the hosting operating system's window manager allows transparency
In addition, version 1.1 works on Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and 64-bit editions of Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise.
Adobe AIR 1.5 Adobe AIR 1.5 was released on November 17, 2008. New capabilities included:
Ability to encrypt the local database
Inclusion of Flash Player 10 features
Five new languages including Czech, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish and Polish
Adobe AIR 1.5.1 Released on February 24, 2009, AIR 1.5.1 was primarily a compatibility update that includes bug fixes and security updates.
Adobe AIR 1.5.2 Released on July 30, 2009, AIR 1.5.2 introduced a number of minor new features and compatibility issues. Some of the important fixes included:
When using the full-screen interactive mode an application using the 1.5.2 namespace can capture the keyDown event and call the preventDefault() method of the event
SWF content embedded within an HTML container could now be displayed with certain wmode settings.
Adobe AIR 1.5.3 Adobe AIR 1.5.3 was released on December 8, 2009. It included fixes for a number of compatibility and security related issues. The BBC iPlayer Desktop manager v1.5.15695.18135 is the first version to use AIR 1.5.3.
AIR 2.0 The Adobe AIR 2 public beta was released on November 16, 2009 followed by the beta 2 on February 2, 2010 and the release candidate on May 11, 2010. In addition, Adobe AIR for Android was announced on February 12, 2010. AIR 2 was officially released for Windows, Mac OS and Linux on June 10, 2010 and Android on October 8, 2010. It dropped the ability to run on PowerPC Macs.
AIR 2.5 Adobe AIR 2.5 was released on October 24, 2010 at the Adobe MAX 2010 conference.
AIR 2.6 Adobe AIR 2.6 was released on February 24, 2011 for Android devices. Another update was released on March 22, 2011 for updated iOS interoperability.
AIR 2.7 Adobe AIR 2.7 was released on June 14, 2011. Ability to run on Linux was dropped.
AIR 3.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.0 on October 3, 2011. AIR 3.0 added the ability to run on native 64-bit CPU architecture and use hardware accelerated graphics rendering, captive runtime, native extensions, JPEG-XR image format, LZMA compression for SWF files, and H.264 encoding.
AIR 3.1 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.1 on November 11, 2011.
AIR 3.2 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.2 on March 28, 2012.
AIR 3.3 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.3 on June 8, 2012.
AIR 3.4 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.4 on August 21, 2012.
AIR 3.5 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.5 on November 6, 2012.
AIR 3.6 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.6 on February 12, 2013.
AIR 3.7 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.7 on April 9, 2013.
AIR 3.8 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.8 on July 24, 2013.
AIR 3.9 Adobe released Adobe AIR 3.9 on October 8, 2013.
AIR 4.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 4.0 on January 14, 2014. It was released to beta on October 30, 2013, code named Jones.
AIR 13.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 13.0 on April 8, 2014. It was numbered 13 to synchronize itself with the version numbering of Flash Player.
AIR 14.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 14.0 on June 10, 2014.
AIR 15.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 15.0 on September 9, 2014. It includes improvements to Stage3D technology, AIR Gamepad enhancements, and a new packaging engine for iOS apps that reduces compile times from minutes to seconds.
AIR 16.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 16.0 on January 13, 2015.
AIR 17.0 Adobe released Adobe AIR 17.0 on March 12, 2015.
^"Adobe AIR and Linux: Increasing Distribution on Devices". Adobe Blog website. Adobe Inc. Retrieved June 14, 2011. We will no longer be releasing our own versions of Adobe AIR and the AIR SDK for desktop Linux, but expect that one or more of our partners will do so. The last Adobe release of AIR for desktop Linux is AIR 2.6. By focusing on the porting kit and support of partner implementations, we expect to provide broader support for AIR across Linux-based PCs and devices, whereas our own desktop Linux releases have accounted for less than 0.5% of lifetime AIR downloads.