It seems like the Adobe-Apple spat over Flash for the iPhone has ended in an ugly way, with Adobe ceasing all development of Flash-to-iPhone software to focus its efforts on Google’s Android OS.
Read on for more information.
Those who had been anxiously waiting for how the spat between Adobe and Apple would play out in the hopes that Apple might just cut Adobe some slack with its tough and uncompromising stance on Flash and 3rd-party compilers can now prepare themselves for a massive disappointment, because it seems that Adobe has had enough of playing hide-and-seek with loopholes in the developer licence agreement, choosing instead to bail out of the iPhone market.
But Adobe has also made it clear that while Flash for the iPhone is officially dead as a doornail, it still intends to push its Flash player onto other mobile devices, and the new mobile OS it intends to focus its efforts on will, not surprisingly, be Google’s own Android OS.
According to a blog post made by Mike Chambers, Flash platform product manager for Adobe, CS5 will still ship with the iPhone compiler, but warned that the tool is no longer under active development.
Still, he insisted that the effort Adobe spent in trying to bring Flash to the iPhone proves that there was no compelling technical reason for Flash not to work in Apple’s smartphone, and as a result, the team has managed to implement various features “such as hardware acceleration and Ahead of Time compilation) which he believes will be instrumental to improving the user experience of Flash on other platforms like Google’s Android, adding that they are currently working to bring both Flash Player 10.1 and AIR over to Android with promising results.
Of particular note is the hardware acceleration feature mentioned by Chambers; if one would recall, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had repeatedly claimed that Flash was a buggy piece of software that hogged CPU resources. While it may be true for OS X systems, it should be noted that Flash on Windows seldom suffered from extremely high CPU usage, and that was because Flash for Windows had the ability to make use of hardware acceleration. In contrast, it was said that Apple did not release the proper documentation for such a feature in OS X, thus forcing Flash to resort to CPU cycles.
Either way, if Adobe is really serious about bringing Flash to Android devices, it will have its work cut out for it; while the technical advantages of Android over Apple’s iPhone OS may be apparent, the main complaint most developers had about Google’s platform is that it was too fragmented, with too many different handset makers offering different capabilities, resulting in application incompatibilities between various handsets. And Flash is not exempted from this situation, as it is only available for a few Android devices.
Still, the more flexible nature of Google’s development policies for Android might work in Adobe’s favor: if Adobe is able to leverage on the experience gained while attempting to port Flash over to the iPhone and push out a decent Flash player for Android that is capable of hardware-acceleration, lightweight and efficient, that might be all that is needed for Android to to take a huge bite out of Apple’s pie with the premise of having a truly complete web browsing experience on a mobile device.
Meanwhile, Google has embraced Adobe’s decision to work with them, with VP of engineering Andy Rubin claiming that “partnerships have been at the very heart of Android”.
“Google believes that developers should have their choice of tools and technologies to create applications…our engineering teams have been working closely to bring both AIR and Flash Player to Google’s mobile operating system and devices. The Android platform is enjoying great adoption, and we expect our work with Adobe will help that growth continue,” he said in a blog post.