I think many will agree that 2010 is going to be the year of mobile and devices. With Android becoming a serious contender and Apple reportedly coming out with some innovative new hardware its no surprise to me that there’s a lot of buzz around the Flash Player and whether or not Adobe will be able to deliver a good experience on mobile platforms.
Enter Flash Player 10.1 – a few years in the making, the engineers are specifically targeting this release for mobile consumption and added critical features like hardware video decoding, GPU graphic acceleration and serious CPU and memory optimizations.
Its fundamentally flawed to compare this Flash Player release with previous versions which were primarily built for use on personal computers with very different constraints in terms of CPU and memory usage. We’re finally seeing the first results of the Open Screen Project — call it a marketing effort if you must — but partners like Google, HTC, Intel, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and many others have no incentive to support and invest in a sub par technology.
Will it be perfect? Probably not, but we’re getting a hell of a lot closer to a full web experience on the majority of mobile devices.
Enter Flash CS5 – with Apple not playing nice with supporting a Flash Player initiative (or any other plugins for that matter) on the iPhone browser, we’ll now get the next best thing. Exporting native applications from Flash CS5 is going to be an easy way to port Flash content (including accelerometer, geolocation and other new APIs introduced for mobile) to iPhone ARM binaries for distribution on the iTunes store.
My prediction is this will be good as a way to port typical Flash content to the iPhone, not necessarily an IDE you would want to use for developing iPhone application where you need fine grained access to the underlying code. Objective-C will still be a good choice for your iPhone development, though Flash CS5 will now open up a very approachable development environment for the iPhone to Windows users.
Moving beyond just mobile phones, the Flash Platform is reaching out and the Flash Player is being used on set top boxes, digital television, on board computers on cars and boats, even user interfaces for refrigerators and microwaves.
What bothers me is how all sense of pragmatism seems to be lost on some bloggers. Wanting the Flash Player to die because of the unfounded believe that its not supportive of an “open web”, not SEO friendly or claiming that its been made obsolete by HTML5 (which will incidently take at least half a decade to come even close to being supported on the percentage of web users that the Flash Player can target now). A full decade of Flash content out on the web and 90% of video is not going to go away.
I am not an Adobe employee (though I am involved in their community programs), call me biased but I’m incredibly excited about what is in store for Flash support on mobile and what it promises for user experience. But more importantly I’m not ready to dismiss new technology before getting a chance to play around with it, a view I wish more people would share.