More than 2 years post-iPhone launch, no news on Flash ever coming to the iPhone, yet Apple is pressing ahead with technologies like H.264 video (YouTube App's been using it since day one), HTML 5 and CSS animation (iPhone Safari supported them first), HTTP Live Streaming, and now WebGL for hardware accelerated 3D-graphics, and TuneKit, the framework behind the new iTunes LP rich media content.

Read on to find out what they are, how they work, and why they might make plugins like Flash increasingly unnecessary...

Says developer blog Wolfire:

WebGL is basically an initiative to bring 3D graphics into web browsers natively, without having to download any plugins. This is achieved by adding a few things to HTML5, namely, defining a JavaScript binding to OpenGL ES 2.0 and letting you draw things into a 3D context of the canvas element.

This would bring 3D-gaming (or any 3D application) right into the browser with hardware acceleration, with no plugin like Flash needed to hog your memory, heat up your processor, or crash the browser. (Browsers can do all of those things well enough without the extra help). In addition to WebKit (which is the foundation of Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, Palm's Web, BlackBerry's just-purchased Torch Mobile, and some Nokia devices), Firefox and Opera are also supporting it. Internet Explorer? Shrug.

TuneKit is the foundation behind iTunes 9's new iTunes LP and iTunes Extras formats, according to AppleInsider:

Similar to Apple's use of the SproutCore JavaScript framework to build its MobileMe web apps, TuneKit provides media developers with a familiar JavaScript framework for creating interactive bonus materials. TuneKit, like SproutCore, proves that a proprietary middleware runtime plugin such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight is simply unnecessary to deliver this kind of interactive media content, thanks in part to rapid advances in JavaScript rendering engine optimization.

Like TiPb, they couldn't help but notice the 720p nature of the current iTunes LP and iTunes Extras formats seem destined for the Apple TV, and we're keeping the oft-rumored iTablet on that list as well.

Adobe Flash on the other hand, still hasn't produced an optimized version for Mac OS X, never mind iPhone OS X, according to Apple is the number one cause of browser crashes, continues to experience security threats (though Javascript is no angel here either), and is under increasing privacy scrutiny due to Flash cookies. (If you've never checked, here's the page on Adobe's site that shows which websites are storing information about you in the Flash plugin).

Since, at the end of the day, users don't care about Flash or WebKit/browser technology, they just want their videos and games, things like WebGL and TuneKit could very well replace large amounts of Flash (and competing formats like SilverLight) on the web, especially the mobile web.

And personally I'm fine with that. A series of cutting edge, specific, highly optimized technologies are sometimes better than aging, overextended architectures anyway (feel free to insert iTunes jokes here).

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