Friday, April 9, 2010

iPad - Dead End for Flash?

[Update: It's getting ugly, as an Adobe rep responds.]

Between the launch of the iPad, on April 3, and the introduction of Apple's iPhone software version 4, on April 8, a significant amount of buzz was generated about CS5 Flash Professional's role in the iPad ecosystem.

The ability for Flash Pro to generate iPhone "packages" which allow some Flash content to play on the iPhone was first highlighted in October at Adobe MAX 2009 in Los Angeles.

I wrote about this "workaround" at the time, but interest in this topic was fairly low - until the iPad was announced without Flash support.

Between the sans-Flash iPad and the ongoing HTML5 video tag discussion, Apple continued to blow on the embers of its HTML5-CSS-JavaScript preference for iPad and iPhone delivery as the iPad launch date approached.

Based on the hype surrounding this "working around the web" from a Flash-iPad integration standpoint,  I wrote another article, positing on how Adobe could make Flash Pro relevant to the larger HTML5 development audience.

This week, the embers being fanned by Apple burst into a full-blown firefight. Apple's iPhone software version 4 has a modified licensing agreement, that states in part:

"Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs."

In other words, Apple's saying it's not how an iPad or iPhone package is compiled but also how it's written. Apple adds an example in its licensing agreement, directly following the portion noted above.

"(e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

Jon Gruber at DaringFireball picked up on this with the title: iPhone Agreement Bans Flash Compiler that lists out a few integrated development environments (IDEs) that may cross the line Apple has drawn in the sand, but he saves the bulk of his blog post for the implications to Adobe:

"Wonder what Adobe does now? CS5 is this close to release and the iPhone compiler is the flagship feature in this version of Flash."

Going to be an interesting week at NAB, with the roll-out of CS5, discussion of the iPad's personal media consumption coup and the clash of the tech titans that is now beyond its flashpoint.

Update: AppleInsider notes that the issue here may be pre-emptive, since it only relates to iPhone software version 4.0, which will ship later this year, and that it also may be intended to address multi-tasking (although combining pre-emptive and multi-tasking in this case would be a misnomer). 

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