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Summary:

Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) has little choice but to press ahead with its Flash and AIR products, even as operating system vendors start to move away…

Adobe Flash
photo: Adobe

Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) has little choice but to press ahead with its Flash and AIR products, even as operating system vendors start to move away from its technology in favor of HTML5. The latest versions of the technology are probably welcome to those with content-distribution strategies based around Flash and application developers dependent on AIR, but the world seems like it’s heading in a different direction.

Flash 11 and AIR 3 were introduced Wednesday, and the most notable improvement probably concerns graphics performance. Adobe also made it possible for AIR applications to work more closely with hardware on a computer or mobile device, such as tapping into a phone’s NFC (near-field communications) chip for things like mobile payments.

Flash and AIR apps are still quite common on PCs and Android devices, but are of course famously forbidden from Apple’s iOS devices. Adobe faces a major transition, however, as Microsoft rolls out Windows 8 next year. Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) said last week that Internet Explorer 10 will be HTML5-only in the Metro tablet-style interface that’s likely to be found on many tablets and PCs.

“Running Metro style IE plug-in free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers,” Microsoft said in the blog post announcing that news.

  1. It’s funny sometimes how little tech bloggers know about the tech the pontificate on. 

    ‘Flash and AIR apps are still quite common on PCs and Android devices, but are of course famously forbidden from Apple’s iOS devices’, is a ridiculous statement. In Adobe’s press release they mention several apps created with Flash tech that are not only available on iOS but which are top ten selling apps. Maybe you guys just like Kool-Aid.

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    1. You can use Flash technology to create apps but that’s not a Flash app: it’s recompiled by Adobe to run on iOS devices.

      http://www.adobe.com/devnet/logged_in/abansod_iphone.html

      You can’t just take your regularly developed Flash app and run it on an iOS device, you have to run it through Adobe’s compiler first, as noted in that article from Adobe.

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      1. I think that’s just semantics Tom. All flash ‘apps’ are compiled at some point no matter the platform. That would be the same as saying you can only view Flash ‘apps’ in a web browser. It’s just not true. From the link you provide: ” you can now create applications for iOS using the Adobe Flash Platform”

        Two points:

        First, while there is a special compiler process upon export from the flash program, the code that you use to create the app is for the most part standard ActionScript programming which other than device specific features you could use to export the same app for other platforms. Also that exported package does contain a ‘Flash Player’ in it (captive). So there is a version of the Flash player that runs on iOS.

        The second point is really the issue I have with the statement. One is able to use the Flash Professional program and standard Flash techniques to create iOS apps that are accepted into the Apple app store and actually can perform very well both technologically and economically. To make the blanket statement that ‘Flash and AIR apps’ are ‘ forbidden from Apple’s iOS devices’ is at the least incorrect and at the worse duplicitous. The ability to, from a single code base, export apps that run on iOS, Android, Windows desktops, Mac Desktops, and several other devices is powerful tech despite the different compiler packages that might be used in the final output.

        I also don’t think it’s fair to use quotes from Microsoft without mentioning that they have a directly competing product, (Silverlight), as well as several other products that compete with Adobe offerings.

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        1. Definitely not semantics.  It’s a fundamental difference in how the programs are run.  A true Flash program is run inside of a Flash Runtime that’s developed and controlled by Adobe.  A runtime which generally runs inside of a webpage or inside of the AIR framework (again controlled by Adobe).

          The Flash apps that are recompiled to run as iOS apps are running as native applications with all of the side effects, limitations (sandbox), and behavior that are inherent in what that means.  That recompilation IS somewhat inefficient though which means these apps usually don’t perform as well as they could.

          It also means that Apple doesn’t have to care that the Flash runtime might have a security flaw or hasn’t been updated yet.  Which is a distinction enough that Apple doesn’t care that those apps exist while it obviously cares that the normal Flash runtime is NOT on iOS.

          And your assertion that these apps perform very well is not played out in reality from my experience.  Most of those top selling Flash iOS apps have such bad performance that they are only able to run on the latest hardware.  By choosing Flash as your programing language for apps that have moderate graphics or animation you are making a choice that necessitates eliminating a portion of your potential market.  

          As for AIR take a look at the general opinion of the Yammer desktop apps for Windows and Mac.  I’ve yet to use an AIR app that didn’t make want to scream due to it’s bugginess and/or serious performance issues compared to a native application.  

          The write once run everywhere dream is a dream that isn’t new.  And it’s one that comes with many inherent issues that have never been solved.  The promise of Java comes to mind.  It’s a fine language but it never fulfilled it’s promises.  And AIR isn’t even close to fulfilling them either.

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  2. BTW, The correct statement would be: ‘You can’t play standard .swf files on iOS devices, including through the web browser.’

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  3. ” A true Flash program is run inside of a Flash Runtime that’s developed
    and controlled by Adobe.”  – There is a flash runtime inside of the iOS package that the Flash program creates for you. Obviously it’s developed and controlled by Adobe. Additionally there are other methods of creating Flash files that are not from Adobe, (FlashDevelop for instance), so this statement is wrong on several levels.

    “Most of those top selling Flash iOS apps have such bad performance that
    they are only able to run on the latest hardware.” – That has always been the case for Apple hardware. I’m an adjunct and I regularly here horror stories from my students about Apple hardware of all types that has become basically a paperweight because it can’t receive the latest OS updates, or a certain version of software doesn’t run on older Apple devices. Not a Flash problem, but an Apple problem … for years.

    ” By choosing Flash as your programing language for apps that have
    moderate graphics or animation you are making a choice that necessitates
    eliminating a portion of your potential market.” – Again, this is an issue for all technologies. Talk to a website owner who has tried to move into HTML5 too soon. Because most browsers are older browsers, they too have made a decision that leaves out a large portion of their audience. In fact best practices for HTML5 video state that you ‘fall back’ to a flash video player for those visitors with non HTML5 compliant browsers.

    Of course the write once, run everywhere ideal is the holy grail of programming and while Flash technologies haven’t solved it, they are an option for reaching a large and varied audience with a single code base. (98% of desktops, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android 2.3+, Blackberry tablets, TV’s, Kiosks.) Not many techs can even come close to that list. Just because they haven’t reached every last user on the planet, doesn’t mean it’s not good tech. Any other statement is just not true.

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