Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Flash & the iPad: Adobe Air may provide the workaround for developers building publication apps for tablets

Several posts today confirm what yesterday's Wired post demonstrated, that there may be workarounds to Apple's "no Flash" policy.

To refresh your memory, Wired released a new video demonstration of what it is calling the Wired Reader.  As I pointed out, the app is based on Adobe Air, a runtime environment that allows for Flash within a desktop application (as opposed to browser based).
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The importance of this to publishers lies in the fact that it has been assumed that Flash would be part of any tablet publishing solution.  Things got confusing when it was apparent that the iPad version of Safari, Apple's web browser, did not incorporate Flash support -- just as the iPhone version of Safari lacks Flash support. Then, shortly after the iPad event in January, Steve Jobs reportedly disparaged Adobe (and Google) at an employee-only meeting, calling the company "lazy" and blaming Flash for causing a majority of the crashes occurring in Safari.

But now comes the Wired Reader video, as well as a couple posts on the New York Times and WSJ web sites which seem to confirm that there may be a way to work around to this situation. Additionally, Adobe's CTO, Kevin Lynch, gave an interview to Kara Swisher, WSJ's BoomTown columnist, in which he seems to admit some problems with Flash integration on the Mac, and tries to play nice.

Whether Apple ever offers Flash support with Safari on the iPhone and iPad may not end up being a big deal. But if developers must forego any Adobe Flash usage when designing publication apps for tablets this could cause problems -- both for publishers, advertisers, and ultimately Apple. The common sense solution would appear to be to allow stand alone apps to be built using Adobe Air - and since the iPad and iPhone OS does not allow third parties to utilize multitasking, this would guarantee compliance with Apple's rather strict development rules.  We'll see.