Flash on the iPad With AIR

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Apple’s disdain for Adobe Flash is legendary, so it is not surprising that the iPad will not support Flash in the browser. The iPhone doesn’t support Flash either, so this is simply more of the same. A recent conversation I had with Adobe pointed out something that is not well known in regards to Flash on these devices from Apple. It turns out Flash runs fine, as long as it’s in the form of a native iPhone/iPad app. Adobe has tools to make that easy for developers to do, and told me that more than 40 Flash-based apps have been submitted to the iTunes App Store. Now comes word that the cool Wired iPad app was developed with Adobe AIR, which, Apple’s feelings aside, makes apparent just how much can be done with Flash on Apple’s domain.

To be clear, Safari’s mobile browser will not handle Flash on web pages, and this is by design. No matter what we mere mortals think about that, it is not going to change in our lifetime. Apple has a blind spot about Flash that is not going away, iPad or not. The folks at Adobe have figured that out by now, and it is pure genius that they have produced a tool to get around Apple and let developers get Flash apps on the iPhone/ iPad. According to Adobe, the Packager for iPhone can compile any Flash-based app into native iPhone code. Adobe AIR can then be used to distribute them onto the iPad. No matter how you may feel about Flash, watching the video of the Wired iPad app shows just how much can be accomplished with it on Apple’s own platform.

So will Apple allow this to happen? That’s hard to predict as the company seems to have a true hatred for all things Flash. This uncertainty is where Apple’s tight-handed control over the app approval process raises its ugly head. It doesn’t have to do anything to prevent these Flash apps to get released, it can simply withhold approval. I really hope this doesn’t happen, and I believe Apple will be very short-sighted if it doesn’t approve apps simply because they’re Flash-based. If the company wants to make the iPad the Next Big Thing, it had better make it easy to get good apps like the Wired app on board. Flash or no.

Related research from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

5 Tips for Developers Targeting the iPad


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