Adobe Systems has rolled out a beta version of its Adobe Flash Player 10 (formerly called Astro) browser plug-in, which adds features to help designers and developers create special effects and cinematic web experiences.

The new offering adds support for custom filters and effects created using Adobe's Pixel Bender tool kit, Adobe said. The Pixel Bender technology is used in the company's After Effects CS3 tool, which creates motion graphics and visual effects for film and broadcast.

"We're doing things that really change the game of what's possible on the Internet," said Tom Barclay, senior product marketing manager of Flash Player. "The community now has the ability to upgrade the capabilities of the player and create new types of effects and cinematic experiences that are not available with any other browser plug-in."

The beta version of the player also includes native 3-D transformation and animation capabilities, an extensible rich-text layout, and graphics processing unit hardware acceleration, he added.

The new support for 3-D is "really 3-D for the rest of us," Barclay noted. "It allows people to take what they know in the 2-D world and transform it into 3-D. It's native so the performance is very fast, and it will not result in larger file sizes."

New bit-rate streaming for video links between the Flash Player and intended future releases of Adobe's Flash Media Server will automatically adjust video quality as bandwidth changes without having to rebuffer, the company said. "This will provide a seamless playback experience with no starting or stopping of video waiting for the stream to catch up," Barclay said.

In addition, a new text engine in Flash Player 10 allows designers and developers to have more creative control over device font attributes such as rotation and style, Adobe said. The new version also adds more text layouts, like vertical and bidirectional, which support the creation of rich Internet applications like interactive e-books and online publications in additional languages, Barclay added.

The beta version of Adobe Flash Player 10 runs on the Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows 2000, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. The Adobe Pixel Bender Exchange is available for beta users to create custom effects for the Flash Player, according to the company.

The general release of Flash Player 10 is expected later this year.