Earlier this year, Adobe released the first versions of Flex SDK and Flash Builder with support for mobile application development. Flex 4.5 introduced a set of mobile-optimized components and a mobile-optimized application framework, while Flash Builder 4.5 included mobile project types, multiplatform device simulation, on-device debugging, and easy packaging for deployment across a range of mobile devices and app stores.

With a single framework and tool, developers can build rich, expressive mobile and tablet applications and deploy to Apple iOS, Google Android, and BlackBerry Tablet OS devices.

Since launch, the response from developers has been amazing! Flex developers can simply take advantage of their existing web/desktop development skills to create compelling mobile applications. This also provides an amazing opportunity for developers who are new to Flex to jump into the world of mobile app development. Flex is a singular solution for dealing with the complexity of multiple device form factors, pixel densities, and cross-platform inconsistency. With the help of powerful tooling, developers can deploy applications to all four major app stores faster than ever before.

If you’ve yet to explore Flex 4.5 and Flash Builder 4.5, then I encourage you to take a moment to read the following articles for more details:

Welcome to Flex 4.6

Flex 4.6 is the next major step in cross-platform mobile application development. With a scheduled release date later this year, the new version of Flex SDK and a corresponding free update to Flash Builder will offer a host of new components and functionality specifically designed to help developers create applications for the latest mobile and tablet devices.

We are proud to announce, available today, a preview of the next version of Flex. If you would like to know more, join our pre-release program and help shape the future of mobile app development.

New components

Flex 4.6 includes several new and updated mobile-optimized Spark components:


SplitViewNavigator

A new top-level application component specifically designed for building a tablet-based experience. With only a few lines of code, you can manage the layout of multiple views and have them adapt automatically based on device orientation.

CallOutButton

A versatile component that pops over existing content and can contain text, components, or even entire views.

SpinnerList

This popular tablet component is an adaption of the existing List component. It not only has a new look, but also gives options like recirculating content and a position based selection model.

DateSpinner

A highly flexible component that is locale-aware and provides multiple out-of-the box configurations to fit most date/time entry needs.

Text Enhancements

Flex 4.6 solves the problem of cross device text input. Flex exposes the native text editing controls on every platform, enabling you to customize the keyboard and allow the user to experience the native UI for common operations such as selection, copy/paste, and spell checking.

ToggleSwitch

This simple and much-requested control is now available in Flex 4.6.

Better performance

Adobe remains focused on performance, and in Flex 4.6 we’ve made considerable improvements. Many key performance optimizations have been made to give mobile applications an even more responsive feel. Simply repackaging an existing Flex mobile application with Flex 4.6 can yield up to a 50% performance gain. Creating a new application in Flex 4.6 will deliver near-native performance with the superior customization you expect from Flex.

Updated platform support

As part of this release, we will provide support for the latest mobile operating system releases–including Apple iOS5 and Google’s forthcoming update to Android. In addition, Flex will be certified on the latest smartphone and tablet devices.

Enhanced Tooling – Flash Builder 4.6

Along with the release of Flex 4.6, Adobe is proud to bring a powerful update to Flash Builder, free of charge to existing Flash Builder 4.5 customers.

In addition to supporting the new features in the Flex framework, Flash Builder 4.6 includes two new capabilities that will enable developers to build better cross-platform mobile applications: Native Extensions and Captive Runtime.

The Native Extensions feature enables developers to complement their Flex application with native C, Objective-C, and Java libraries. This new feature opens a world of new possibilities for mobile and desktop applications alike. With access to Apple iOS, Google Android, and BlackBerry Tablet OS APIs, your applications can take advantage of native features like notifications and the calendar. Flash Builder provides complete support for both managing and packaging Native Extensions. To learn more about the possibilities and how to build your own native extension, see Oliver Goldman's article.

Captive Runtime provides a new way to package your applications, offering a streamlined on-device install experience that no longer requires end users to install or update runtimes from the Android Market. Everything your application needs to run, on any device, is packaged directly into the native install file.

Other tooling improvements in Flash Builder 4.6 include support for monitoring network traffic for mobile projects (using the Flash Builder Network Monitor), unit testing support for mobile projects (using FlexUnit), and an improved Flash Builder start page that highlights new content and extensions.

Where to go from here

We’re extremely excited to deliver all these new capabilities just months after launching Flex 4.5.

We’ll shortly be offering access to early builds of Flex 4.6 SDK and Flash Builder 4.6. Sign up today for the pre-release program and you’ll be among the first to get access!