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What’s the Difference Between Adobe AIR and Flash Player?

If you use the internet on a regular basis, you’ve probably come across the terms “Adobe Flash Player” and “Adobe AIR”. You’re most likely familiar with the former especially if you love watching videos and playing games on the web, but you might not know much about latter. If this is the case, this guide is for you.

Basic Info on Adobe AIR

Adobe AIR, formerly known as Adobe Integrated Runtime, is a runtime system that’s used by coders to build applications for mobile and desktop devices. Specifically, these apps can be run on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry Tablet OS for mobile devices and macOS and Microsoft Windows for laptops and desktop computers. Adobe AIR used to support Linux and BlackBerry 10 but this has been discontinued in the past years. The applications created in AIR are programmed using ActionScript, Flash Player, and Apache Flex.

Adobe AIR vs Flash Player

Adobe AIR is considered a superset of Adobe Flash Player, but they’re different in that Flash Player is a browser plugin that supports in-browser content while AIR supports content that run outside web browsers and can be used even without them.

Applications developed for Flash Player do not need installation before you can use them; as long as you have a web browser open, you can access and enjoy Flash-based content. Applications developed for AIR, on the other hand, require you to install them in your computer or mobile device and behave like native applications. This means that Flash-based apps have access only to selected individual files, while AIR-based apps have unrestricted access to all of your files and storage systems.

Both of these undeniably have pros and cons. Since they act like native applications, AIR apps are usually more stable and can be accessed even if you don’t have internet connection (depending on the app). However, before you can use them, you’ll need to download installer files and install the appropriate programs (for laptops and desktop computers) or get the app from the relevant app store (for mobile devices). This requires several minutes unlike Flash-based content, which can be easily accessed with just a few clicks.

Still, in many cases, apps developed on Adobe AIR come out on top since they have the ability to integrate more tools and features that are not available or feasible on browser-based content. This means that they can provide users a richer and more satisfying experience. AIR-based apps, for example, can easily access your smartphone’s GPS and accelerometer tools, integrate with your Taskbar or Dock, and take advantage of your device’s multi-touch capacity.

Working as a Team

However, it’s important to note that Adobe AIR and Flash Player don’t exactly work independently of each other. In many cases, they work together to ensure that content can smoothly move between browsers and the device’s native operating system and create an efficient and streamlined user experience. Adobe AIR also uses Flash Player technologies to properly deliver rich internet applications on desktop and mobile devices.

In terms of security, both Adobe AIR and Flash Player have multiple vulnerabilities. However, it’s safe to say that the latter has a higher risk. Check out this post to know more about Flash Player vulnerabilities and security issues.

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