Over the past year we have created multiple mobile applications using Adobe AIR with Flash Builder. We have talked about both the good and bad side of things. Among the biggest negatives associate with development have been performance and access to a lot of the native features of mobile operating systems.
A couple months ago, Adobe released AIR 3.0 (and now AIR 3.1). With this came the ability to create AIR Native Extensions (ANE), which allow developers to extend the runtimes of the mobile operating systems. This means gaining access to native tools and features of iOS and Android! We were very excited when they announced this and are just now beginning to see the possibilities that this is opening up.
As of writing this blog post, we have added version 2.8 of Ransom Letters Lite to the Android Marketplace, and submitted the same version to the the iTunes library. Along with switching some of the rendering, updating to the AIR 3.1 SDK, we have begun utilizing some of the Native Extensions that have become available over the Internet. We have included the iAd and AdMob extensions that were created by Milkman Games. These have saved our previous attempt at using StageWebView to display banners in the applications.
For the iOS implementation, we also customized an ANE which enables native dialogs to be displayed. We found that by adding a native dialog, the app instantly felt more like a native app within the iOS environment. The ANE allowed for the extremely quick creation of a menu that allows for sharing, and some other options which would have required design and custom views if done in the Flash Builder environment.
On top of everything, it has become simple to both create and include these extensions in Flash Builder 4.6 projects. It is a similar process to adding a SWC to the application. The downside is that we decided it would be best to split out source into two separate applications, one for iOS and one for Android. This was a minor sacrifice for the added enhancements.
Next on the list is to build a Game Center integration for the full version of Ransom Letters. We will also be exploring options to enhance the full version of the Android app. We will also be exploring options for speed and UI enhancements for The Etiquette App. Stay tuned for more updates, and below are some links that should help with understanding an implementation on ANEs.