Today Adobe announced that they’re delivering on their promise to bring updated Flash support to Android devices next week. Flash Player 10.2 will be available for download via Android Market on March 18th. The new player will work on the three most recent versions of Android–that is, 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread), and 3.0 (Honeycomb). It remains in beta form for the tablet version of the OS. The update is detailed after the break, PR-style.
Somehow, someway Skyfire has managed to clear its mobile Skyfire browser–Flash support and all–through the Apple gates and into the App Store. As detailed in early September, Skyfire does not actually run Flash video; instead it trancodes the content using Skyfire’s servers from Flash to HTML5. So if you’ve been looking for a Flash fix on your iOS device here’s your $3 solution.
Note: The Webkit-based browser will not support all Internet Flash content; for example, Flash games and apps are not supported, and Hulu content is blocked. Skyfire promises that “scores of other premium sites are supported”, so stay hopeful! Look after the break for an updated video demonstration.
Update: An app can’t be “sold out”, can it? According to Skyfire: “The user experience was performing well for the first few hours, but as the surge continued, the peak load on our servers and bandwidth caused the video experience to degrade. Thus we are effectively ‘sold out’ and will temporarily not accept new purchases from the App Store. We are working really hard to increase capacity and will be accepting new purchases from the App Store as soon as we can support it.” Ah, that explains it. Keep tabs on their Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates on the matter.
Update 2 (11/5): In a short blog post Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck assures iOS users that “we’re working around the clock to add capacity for more users.” And here are the specifics: “We are going to open batches of downloads for new users over the coming days. The first batch will be in a few minutes on the Apple App Store. It will be first come, first serve.” The first batches are coming to the US only, “with additional country support to follow shortly.”
The warring atmosphere between Apple (backer of HTML5) and Adobe (Flash) over the Internet video standard is about to heat up once again. Developer Skyfire submitted to the App Store the first mobile browser capable of running Flash content on Apple mobile devices. The Skyfire browser for Apple devices embeds the Safari browser, meaning that the browser will look and run similarly to the built-in mobile Sarari browser and it will incorporate new features from Skyfire. One major new feature is the ability to run Flash-based content within in the brower. Skyfire has done their homework:
Skyfire for iPhone was built in tight accordance to Apple guidelines, including the use of a WebKit browser core shared with Safari, and h.264 adaptive streaming. Skyfire’s famed cloud-computing technology translates Flash video on the fly from millions of web sites into HTML5 formats, and supports iOS devices via Apple’s HTTP live streaming standard. Skyfire also avoids the concerns raised in Steve Jobs’ recent essay regarding Flash on mobile devices. By optimizing Flash for iPhones and network conditions in the Cloud, Skyfire improves performance and maximizes battery life while playing video. The browser also avoids alternate runtime environments and other security vulnerabilities.
In other words, the Skyfire browser technically does not run Flash content; it “translates” the content in the cloud (it talks to Skyfire’s servers) from Flash to HTML5. And thanks to H.264 adaptive streaming, the browser will compress video data by an average of 75% so as not to create network congestion. Adaptive streaming also promises a reduction in buffer time and enhanced battery life. So cross your fingers and let’s hope Apple doesn’t destroy our dreams of watching more delicious content on our iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Check out the video sitting after the break to see an iPhone play an episode of The Daily Show (Flash video) without hiccup. Official PR is there, too.
You know where I’m going with this…
Adobe, makers of Flash video, have decided to take the high road in their retaliation against Apple’s harsh words against their platform. As you know, Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently released an open letter regarding his position on Adobe’s Flash standard for video. He believes it is not an open platform, it’s proprietary, and it’s a dated standard that does not belong in the mobile space. In direct response to Jobs’ open letter, Adobe has rolled out a new ad campaign with the slogan “We [Love] Apple”, with a heart in the place of “love”. In addition to web ads, Adobe coughed up some cash to place a large ad in yesterday’s Washington Post. Things just got more serious, and Team Adobe wants you to know they are in this for the long haul. Besides the new ad campaign, Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock penned their own open letter titled “Our thoughts on open markets.” These choice words are obviously directed at Apple:
We believe that consumers should be able to freely access their favorite content and applications, regardless of what computer they have, what browser they like, or what device suits their needs. No company — no matter how big or how creative — should dictate what you can create, how you create it, or what you can experience on the web.
In the end, we believe the question is really this: Who controls the World Wide Web? And we believe the answer is: nobody — and everybody, but certainly not a single company.
Flash to Apple: Oh, it’s on. Look after the break for the open letter in its entirety, as well as one of the new advertisements.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs released an open letter today regarding his position on Adobe’s Flash standard for video. He breaks down his argument against Flash with the following categories: there’s “open”; the full web; reliability, security and performance; battery life; touch; and “the most important reason.” That is, “If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features.” Quick summation: Jobs calls Flash proprietary and closed; he shares his excitement on the rise of H.264 and the coming of HTML5; Flash makes Macs crash; since Flash decodes in software it eats away battery life; and Flash was not designed for a touch environment. His concludes:
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
But you should really read it for yourself, just look after the break. Pretty compelling argument, eh? Sure, H.264 and HTML5 are the future of video for mobile devices. But Flash is in the here and now. Ah, Jobs you’ve got me arguing for both sides now. Form your own opinions in the comments below!
Update: Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch formally responded to Jobs’ open letter. His short blog post is called “Moving Forward” but after reading it what he really means to say is moving past Apple. Look after the break to see the rebuttal. (Click here for more…)
I cut out this comic from last Sunday’s paper. In it FoxTrot pokes fun at one of the iPad’s biggest downfalls.
Apple devices do not support Flash video, Adobe retaliates with words [Update: Jobs shares his side]
Apple’s mobile devices that run the mobile verison of their web browser Safari, including the iPhone, iPod touch, and now iPad, do not support Flash video. Adobe Flash is a plugin for browsers that allows all kinds of video to play from sites like Hulu, ESPN, JibJab, and many others, including Flash-based games. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad it was hard not to notice the “Blue Lego Block of Ambiguity[TM]” that resides where a Flash video would normally play. Adobe immediately responded to the matter:
It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers. Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers. And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web.
If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab — not to mention the millions of other sites on the web — I’ll be out of luck.
Adobe goes on to share that any other mobile devices like the Nokia N900 have no trouble at all supporting Flash video in their respective browsers. In a related blog post following this response, Adobe labels a section “The iPad provides the ultimate browsing experience?” Next to this title is a bunch of mockups Adobe created that show the iPad loading a handful of website that include the Blue Lego Block of Ambiguity[TM]. Adobe is striking back against Apple and is insisting that the iPad and the iPhone cannot promote “the ultimate browsing experience” without the support of Flash. Adobe employee Lee Brimelow believes that Apple does not want to include Flash into their browsers because it would take customers away from their iTunes/App Store ecosystem: “They don’t want you to go to Hulu or play Flash games because they worry that you won’t buy their apps.” The man makes a valid point. Either way, if Apple thinks their platforms can survive without Flash support, they better figure out an alternative way to watch all these videos. It won’t be long until people are fed up with not being able to watch their favorite TV shows with Hulu on Apple’s attractive but not 100% functional devices.
Update: This late-breaking news comes from Wired. At a recent town hall meeting in Cupertino, Steve Jobs addressed Apple employees, touching upon the latest remarks from Adobe and even take a jab at Google. He called Adobe “lazy” and said that “Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.” Strong words coming from Jobs. But truthful and honest nonetheless. HTML 5 will slowly but surely take the place of Flash as it becomes more widespread and implemented into many websites. YouTube is currently in beta with HTML 5 video playback. Though Flash is prone to crashes and HTML 5 is on the way, a gaping hole still exists for Apple’s products today because tons of videos rely on Flash. Unfortunately for Adobe this is a lose-lose situation; Adobe needs Apple to support Flash, but Apple does not need Adobe. And in a year or so, HTML 5 will likely wipe out the need for Flash for most devices.
Though Google has stated on many occasions that they are accepting of all phone manufacturers and welcome handset competition, Jobs had this to say about Google and their Android platform: “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them.” And what of Google’s don’t be evil mantra?: “It’s bullshit,” says Jobs. Oh, it’s on!