Adobe is demoing an update to its Flash Media Server at the National Association of Broadcasters show this week that will enable publishers to stream not just to Flash-enabled web and mobile browsers, but also devices like Samsung TVs, the Motorola Xoom tablet and Atrix smartphone — and even to Apple iOS devices like the iPad.
In a blog post earlier this week, Adobe product manager Kevin Towes showed off the new technology, including providing a demo video of a live video stream with outputs to the Safari browser on a Mac, as well as to an iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom tablet.
While the iPad has become an exciting new way for viewers to stream live and on-demand video, the device doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash format, which means much of today’s existing web video isn’t available for iPad users. Publishers that do want to reach iPad users have to re-encode those videos for HTML5 video playback — and if they want to take advantage of adaptive bit rate technology for live video, they have to format those streams to support Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) protocol.
With Adobe’s Flash Media Live Encoder 4 and future version of Flash Media Server, the company is adding support for HLS. Doing so could enable a video publisher to support live streams to the iPad from the same streaming server it uses for streaming to web browsers and other devices. That could simplify the delivery infrastructure not just for publishers themselves, but also for CDNs and enterprises that rely on Flash Media Server to stream live events. As Towes explained in the blog post:
“By adding support for HLS within the Flash Media Server, Adobe is reducing the publishing complexity for broadcasters who need to reach browsers supporting HLS through HTML5 (such as Safari) or devices where Adobe Flash is not installed. Where Flash is installed, Flash Media Server packages the stream using MPEG4-fragments (F4F) to deliver video over HTTP to Flash.”
Despite Apple’s insistence on keeping Flash off its iOS platforms, Adobe has been hard at work creating hooks that allow developers to use its creative tools to make Flash-based apps that also work on the iPhone and iPad. It also recently rolled out a content protection technology called Adobe Pass which enables companies interested in TV Everywhere services to authenticate users on web browsers and on mobile devices that don’t support Flash. Adobe doesn’t have an expected launch date for iOS/HLS support on its Flash Media Server, but the company will likely begin trialing the technology with media customers soon.