Adobe Flash 10.1 to Finally be "Just Right" for iPhone?

Adobe Flash 10.1 for Mobile

Adobe is working on Flash 10.1, which is a version that's finally supposed to suck less -- battery power and cpu cycles, that is. Meaning, it might just be a contender to finally bring acceptable performance to mobile clients like the iPhone sometime in 2010, even if everyone BUT Apple has signed on at this point.

Back up: since the iPhone debuted with the first mobile web client that actually rendered "just the internet", some users have clamored for Flash. And why now? They were used to that also being on "just the internet". However, the iPhone was still a mobile device and Flash is still notorious for bloat, bugs, and otherwise non-Mobile friendly behavior (and no, we won't mention the increased attack vectors runtimes bring to the table, nor the privacy concerns over Flash-cookies, again, okay?)

Steve Jobs himself famously blamed Adobe for having a desktop version that was too big, and a Lite version that didn't really work, and said Adobe was missing a middle version that would be "just right".

Well, Flash 10.1 might just be that mythical middle-ground, using the GPU to hardware accelerate it's video. About time. Included as well will be multi-touch and gesture support.

This all ties into Adobe's Open Screen project, whose aim it is to make Flash the platform for dynamic web content on mobile, something Adobe really wants and everyone from competing renderers like Microsoft's SilverLight, to truly open web advocates aren't nearly as interested in. Apple, thus far, has been heavily investing in WebKit and technologies like HTML 5, CSS, and JavaScript, which can obviate the need for Flash in many of the place it's (arguably wrongly) being used today. Likewise, H.264 has brought YouTube, Ustream, Stickam, and other video platforms to the iPhone without Flash wrappers, and HTTP Live Streaming will take that further still.

This has no-doubt been noticed by Adobe, and factored into making Flash 10.1 a much better product. Apple, however, is the last major holdout to announce support (or even interest in) Flash 10.1.

There are still some users who are desperate to get Flash on their iPhone (and NO, not just for porn vidz!), and equally vocal users who consider the iPhone a blissful oasis from the fan noise, heat, drain, slowdown, and punching monkey ad-banners Flash has traditionally brought with it. Of course, Flash is a runtime and a development platform -- and Adobe is showing off Flash-developed games -- so one major question will be whether Apple is interested in fragmenting their App Store ecosystem beyond the simple WebApps that currently exist.

Check out for a video of the new Adobe Flash 10.1 beta running on the Palm Pre, then come back and tell us what you want.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Adobe Flash 10.1 to Finally be "Just Right" for iPhone?


SJ and Apple have no room to talk about bloat when a download of iTunes 9.0.1 for 32 bit Windows runs 88.8M. Media Monkey can do all the same stuff, does it better (it could even sync to your iPhone if Apple would let it), and weighs in at 7.2M. And that's only one alternative.
iTunes, the Acroreader of media players.

This will never happen until Apple can work out a suitable monetisation model for the Flash Player. Perhaps using Air to build Flash into an iPhone native app is a way to go, but I just can't see Flash (perhaps specifically, Flash games) being playable on the iPhone for free when it would clearly circumvent the App Store and Apple's majot cash cow

Interesting since other blogs are reporting that there will be flash for all the other mobile platforms, except the iphone, due to apple's closed OS

apple doesn't want to give us flash, then people that get rejected from the app store could go that route and they would lose control

Viva la Jailbreak!
Except if you have a 3GS that came with 3.1 then its no jailbreak for you. The primary purpose of 3.1 was to cripple jailbreak.

I don't really know why everyone gets their panties in a bunch over flash, it's not that great and can be just plain annoying on 90% of websites that use it.

i like the point about apple's investment into CSS, javascript, and HTML5. what's the point of "opening" up flash more, when open-standard-based technologies (HTML5, any decent javascript library) can do almost everything flash can.
and it does it without using a closed, proprietary system (despite it's slight "opening" up). and it does it without creating non-degradable, black box web pages.
i hope apple sticks to its guns and stays away from flash.

Why can't some developer create a flash app that can run right now on jailbroken phones?

Yeah screw flash.. apple will develope HTML5 with the help of google. Look at google, where google goes, inovation is sure to surface.

Flash is not coming to the iPhone unless and until other phones run it, and there is enough flash content usable on phones to make it a selling point. Apple is not anti-flash because of performance or security concerns (though some are certainly legitimate); they are anti-flash because it is a well-understood environment that does not require a Mac purchase for development, with a runtime that does not require people to release through the App Store.
Apple is not about to give up that control, or that not-insignificant 30% cut, unless Flash becomes a killer app that lures a significant number of customers away from the iPhone itself.


hey are anti-flash because it is a well-understood environment that does not require a Mac purchase for development, with a runtime that does not require people to release through the App Store.

I'm not so sure I believe that. If so, they wouldn't be pushing webkit so strongly towards HTML5.
Flash is a huge hog. I've been inconvenienced by its absence maybe 10 times since owning an iPhone, but only in minor ways. I don't miss it and I don't miss all the intrusive advertising pushed into my face.
I think its absence from the iphone is starting to have an effect on web site developers.
You now see very few flash only sites, and most sites that used to be flash only have started to include alternative (and less irritating) forms of advertising.

Apple tend to do things in their own time and get it perfect instead of just OK
you'll probably find that the flash on Blackberrys, androids etc. Will be crap, apple will develop something of their own and it'll most probably b better
plain and simple!

If flash is included on the iPhone I sincerely hope it comes with an option to completely disable it.

Apple is pushing WebKit so strongly towards HTML 5 precisely because they want to eliminate dependencies on non-standard runtimes they cannot control. I agree with you that many uses of Flash annoy, and would be doubly annoying on mobile devices. On mobile devices, most users want Flash only to stream video from abc/espn/southpark/pick your niche video site that uses flash. If those sites were to use h264 and , demand for Flash on the iPhone would virtually disappear overnight. Without any customer clamor for Flash, Apple does not even have to address the potentially ugly issue of a separate runtime - they "win" without having to fire a shot, protecting the exclusive runtime without having to get in an ugly fight with Adobe or whatever government entity that might butt in.
Don't get me wrong; I wholly support standards, and while I do not think Apple's motives are pure here, they are still moving in the right direction, so good for them and us.
And I rarely, if ever, get inconvenienced by flash on any platform, because I whitelist sites. Noscript and its ilk work wonders :)

Apple will eventually add flash to the iPhone but sadly I don't think it'll be for several years. All this talk about flash being to bloated is just a smokescreen. The reality is that apple doesn't want us to have flash because it would mean that we could play thousands of free flash games online bypassing the app store. Apple isn't about to let that happen. Instead they add it only after competitors advertise it as a feature and they are forced to add it. It's sad that apple has to be that way but it's nothing new in apple land.

I agree with an above post, I personally only want flash to watch videos. I've lost count of how many times I've wanted to watch a video and couldn't because it wasn't on YouTube. Hell even tons of YouTube videos can't be watched for that matter. In this day and age the ability to watch flash videos is a necessity not a luxury.

I thought the iPhone was cool until I discovered that it's a totalitarian Phone. "Citizen, you will not use Flash on your phone." I bought a different device. Now that Flash 10.1 is coming out, I may have to buy a NEW phone! :) What matters is my freedom to use the technology I want to use, not what Apple thinks I should use.