Adobe has been working to bring full Flash support to smartphones since last year, and it looks like things are finally coming to a head. Adobe has announced that its Adobe Flash 10.1 platform will soon be ready to stream video and interactive online content to a smartphone near you! Unless, that is, the smartphone sitting next to you happens to be an iPhone. In that case, move along, Adobe has yet to announce any Flash support on the iPhone. If you’re using a Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, webOS or Android smartphone, then you’ll be happy to hear that Adobe will soon release their Adobe Flash 10.1 browser-based runtime. Windows Mobile and webOS users have it best – they’ll probably get a public beta of Flash 10.1 before year’s end!
The Flash 10.1 runtime is the first real fruit borne of Adobe’s Open Screen Project, an initiative to optimized Flash technology for the small screen. To make Flash 10.1 smartphone-friendly, Adobe boffins have been hard at working streamlining the software. Adobe also taps into a smartphone’s GPU (graphics processing unit) to help lighten the processing load on a the CPU, which allows it to run faster and draw less power. How much does all that optimization help? Adobe says software rendering on Flash 10.1 is 87% faster, with mobile phone memory consumption reduced by 55%. That’s impressive.
To prove that Flash 10.1 is intended for smartphones, Adobe baked in support for multi-touch inputs, gesture controls, accelerometer inputs. There’s also support for the HTTP streaming protocol that Apple has been championing as their video-streaming technology of choice.
And, speaking of Apple, the iPhone is still conspicuously missing from the Flash party. Apple says that Flash is still too resource intensive for their iPhone. Apple has clearly gone to great lengths to keep the iPhone OS and iPhone apps as lag free as possible, and Flash technology might screw that all up. But, there may be more to the story than meets the eye – Apple may be trying to block Flash-based apps from bypassing the AppStore. Flash apps don’t need to be installed on the iPhone, so Apple doesn’t control (gasp!) that aspect of the iPhone experience. We’re sure Steve Jobs has a problem with that.
Adobe will follow the late-2009 launch of the Flash 10.1 public beta with another public beta release for Android and Symbian platforms in early 2010. We should start to see handsets packing Flash 10.1 in the first half of 2010.