Adobe AIR for Mobile Apps Unveiled, Could Tip Scales Against Apple?

When it comes to apps, there’s Apple’s 140,000+ programs, and then there’s everyone else. But what if everyone else had a secret weapon that allowed developers to write once for multiple OSes? That’s the promise of Adobe AIR for mobile devices, announced today at Mobile Word Congress. AIR also allows users to store or work with data offline (say, play a game offline and sync scores to the cloud once there’s a connection).

AIR (the same technology behind cool desktop apps like TweetDeck) is coming to Android in 2010.Both RIM and Motorola have announced support for the technology, opening the door for cross-platform apps.

Because Adobe says that AIR leverages mobile specific features from Flash Player 10.1, it’s certainly conceivable that Windows Mobile and webOS might jump on the AIR mobile bandwagon, too. That’s because both Microsoft and Palm have announced support for the player. Should all of these platforms embrace AIR for their mobile apps, it could make things easier for developers and help Apple’s competitors play catch up in a hurry.

Adobe also announced some improvements to Device Central, designed to help developers crank out new applications more quickly. Device Central now supports Flash Player 10.1, promises improved HTML emulation, and has more than 750 profiles for specific handsets. These profiles take into account certain device-specific features, such as multi-touch screens and accelerometers. An emulator allows developers to test their apps, even if they aren’t in possession of a specific phone that’s supposed to support the app.

Finally, Adobe announced that its Open Screen Project has grown to nearly 70 members. New members include Opera, Freescale, and Wind River. Adobe also announced a partnership with the LiMo Foundation, whose relevance we’ve questioned since Android took off.

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