It's been a long time coming but it's here at last. Flash has finally made the transition to the mobile screen. First and foremost, while the Apple/Adobe debate about Flash goes on, I'm going to ignore that issue here. At the end of the day, Apple customers will either view this as important or not and Apple will respond or not.
Adobe might be heaping the pressure onto Apple when it comes to Flash support on the iPad and iPhone, but they're also looking to embrace HTML5 development. At Google I/O 2010 today, the company took to the stage to announce the HTML5 Pack for Dreamweaver CS5, an extension that allows for straightforward handling of HTML5 and CSS3 capabilities, as well as designing single pages that will be usable across multiple screen sizes, whether PC, smartphone or tablet.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs may not have much good to say about Flash, but Adobe are taking the high ground; well, assuming the high ground is an ad campaign across various high-profile sites that professes their love not only for Flash, Apple and HTML5, but for "Freedom Of Choice". That campaign - which you can see, delivered in Flash naturally, on Adobe's homepage - is supported by an open letter from founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock in which they warn that Apple may have "taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web."
Apple could soon be the subject of antitrust investigations, if rumors of an inquiry by either the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission turn out to be true. According to the NYPost, both watchdogs are currently negotiating as to which will take responsibility for looking into Apple's recently tightened iPhone OS development platform rules, which basically made it mandatory for coders to use the Cupertino company's own SDK rather than cross-platform-friendly tools.
Apple and Microsoft might not always agree, but it seems they coincide when it comes to Flash video. After Steve Jobs posted a lengthy critique of Adobe's technology yesterday - followed by a reasonably swift rebuttal from the company themselves - Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch, general manager for IE9, has waded in to throw some support HTML5 and H.264's way. According to Hachamovitch, "in its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only."
Considering the scathing nature of Steve Job's open letter about Flash Player and Adobe, we're not surprised to hear that Adobe's CEO, Shantanu Narayen, has made some official comments in reply. Courtesy of an interview the man just had with The Wall Street Journal, we've got some pretty interesting remarks as to what Jobs said earlier this morning. In the end though, it's nothing we haven't heard before, but that doesn't make it any less obvious that the two companies are indeed butting heads.
You can be sure that the irony of Skyfire launching their Skyfire 2.0 Flash-happy browser for Android within hours of Steve Jobs taking Adobe to task over Flash being unsuitable for mobile devices will be well noted, but don't let that distract you from just what's on offer here. The big news is the new "SkyBar", which throws in automatic Flash video streaming for otherwise broken video links, together with social networking integration.
Only the other day we were talking about Apple's new video acceleration API in OS X 10.6.2 and what difference it might make to Adobe's Flash technology; now we know. The company have pushed out a new beta version of Flash Player called "Gala" which supports GPU acceleration of H.264 content on Macs and MacBooks using NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M video chipsets.
A recently added Apple technical document has led to suggestions that Adobe Flash could take advantage of GPU hardware acceleration on certain OS X 10.6.3 MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iMac models. The Video Decode Acceleration framework can be used with NVIDIA's GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M and GeForce GT 330M GPUs, and permits developers low-level access to their H.264 decoding capabilities. That could mean faster Flash performance and reduced CPU load.
Adobe have been taunting us with Flash Player and Adobe AIR for Android in various pre-release alphas - we even found one lurking, unadvertised, in the halls of Mobile World Congress back in February - for months now, so it's exciting to finally hear that the two technologies are finally hitting beta stage. For the moment, though, it's a private beta and Adobe are obviously being cautious about how many people they invite in; there are separate sign-up forms for AIR and for Flash.
Unfortunately that means there's no public timescale for when developers might actually get their hands on one or both of the technologies, which could put a dampener on coding enthusiasm. We can't help but think this is short-sighted of Adobe, who are facing significant, ongoing criticism with regards the absence of Flash support on the iPad.