Adobe gets flashy with player features

Adobe has released the beta version of its next generation of Flash Player, boasting better performance and native 3D support.

Among the most notable changes to Flash Player 10 is the speed boost, the result of new hardware acceleration tools that allow the graphics card to take on some of the rendering responsibility rather than leaving it all to the CPU.

Another area set to benefit from a speed boost is video playback, with Flash 10 dynamically adjusting streaming video quality as bandwith fluctuates without having to pause and rebuffer. Unfortunately this only works on media streamed from Adobe's Flash Media Server, though it still represents an interesting evolution of the software.

On the developer side, Flash Player 10 comes with a slew of custom filters and effects and support for Adobe's Pixel Bender toolkit, used for enhancing and fiddling with images. The technology is currently used in the company's After Effects CS3 software - and Adobe is hoping it will allow online photo editing sites to drastically expand the range of tools and effects they offer their users.

This is backed up with some basic 3D tools, allowing developers to get to grips with 3D animations and transformations, as well as greater control over device font attributes such as anti-aliasing and rotation.

There's also a wider array of available text layouts including vertical and bidirectional, allowing the creation of ebooks and other documents in foreign languages such as Chinese.

Flash Player 10 beta is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Ubuntu users even get a customised installation menu.

You can download the beta from Adobe labs here."

The software is expected to be released later this year.