Moving on from its snitfest with Apple, Adobe laid out its future plans for Flash on mobile platforms. For now, Adobe is focusing its efforts on Flash for Android. Flash 10.1 is available for Android devices running version 2.2 (Froyo), but it appears unlikely Adobe will work on backward-compatibility for the vast majority of devices still running 2.1, or even, say, 1.6. Google and Adobe have been working together to achieve Flash for Android since 2008.
Flash had to be redesigned to work on mobile platforms rather than desktops. Some of these issues were raised by Apple’s Steve Jobs in his Why Flash Isn’t Welcome on iOS declaration: hardware vs software optimization, battery life, and the like. Think about how much Android devices use multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom or open-for-overview and imagine how Flash would have to handle display, consistent with the rest of a web page. A lot of Adobe’s work in optimizing battery use has been handling no-longer-needed information or audio and video processing that isn’t in your viewing window.
Adobe is looking ahead to add Flash capability on Research in Motion’s Blackberry devices, as well as Palm and Nokia. Tablet capability will be important, with so many Android tablets due in the next few months. Adobe also expects its AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) Development Platform to manage to make internet applications look good whether viewed on a smartphone or a computer monitor. While AIR apps cannot work in background as native Android apps do so well, they are ready to play nice with Android Market. Adobe expects AIR 2.5 with Android support to be released fourth quarter of 2010.
While Android embraces Flash, it is also HTML5 friendly, and that’s the direction Apple is going for its iOS products. Whether Flash and AIR make Android phones seem more capable than iPhones is difficult to say. Adobe is clearly not throwing in the Flash towel.