Google's Andy Rubin told The New York Times that Android 2.2, or Froyo, will fully support Adobe's Flash technology. The position stands in stark contrast to Apple, which has eschewed Flash for its iPhone and iPad. In case it wasn't clear before, there is a new crusade among the mobile Web, or rather an old crusade with newer players, with Apple unapologetically waving the proprietary flag and Google taking up the open mantle.
Google's Android director has confirmed that Android 2.2,
the forthcoming version of the company's operating system for smartphones,
tablets and netbooks, will support Adobe's Flash technology at launch.
Flash is the industry standard for multimedia on the Web.
Apple has staunchly refused to support the technology for both its popular
iPhone and new iPad tablet computer. Enter Google and Android, whose multiple
iterations are seeing strong adoption even as they confound application
developers and consumers for the
Andy Rubin, the vice president for engineering at Google
who spearheaded the creation of Android after selling the same-named company to
Google in 2005, told the New York Times
that Android 2.2, code-named Froyo, will fully support
This should ensure that Websites written in Flash will run
smoothly on Android 2.2 devices without developers having to rewrite the
Websites to accommodate Android.
Perhaps more interesting was Rubin's comment about the
support. Sometimes being open "means not being militant about the things
consumers are actually enjoying," he told the Times.
It's tough to accurately divine intent from this context
without a full transcription of the conversation, but it seems that Rubin is
taking a shot at Apple.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has shown disdain for Flash and
even Adobe, which he has described as "lazy." Jobs and Co. have publicly
endorsed HTML5 for Web multimedia, a position the company holds in common with
Apple lit Adobe's fuse April 8 when it unveiled
the new iPhone Developer
Program License Agreement, which has been revised for the company's iPhone 4.0
, slated to appear in June. Specifically, Apple's Clause 3.3.1 notes:
"Applications may only use Documented APIs in the
manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs.
as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++,
and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs..."
Rubin's comments to the Times stand in stark contrast to
Apple's positioning not only on Flash, but with respect to the app programming
industry at large.
"We use the same tools we expect our third-party
developers to," Rubin told the Times. "We have an SDK we give to
developers and when we write our Gmail app, we use the same SDK. A lot of guys
have private APIs. We don't. That's on policy and on technology. If there's a
secret API to hook into billing system we open up that billing system to third
parties. If there's a secret API to allow application multitasking, we open it
up. There are no secret APIs. That is important to highlight for Android sake.
Open is open and we live by our own implementations."
Note Rubin specifically said Google has no private APIs,
the very same application hooks Apple is outlawing on the iPhone.
What Google's Android team builds for
its own use, it frees up to others. What Apple builds, it builds for
itself and protects it fiercely with restrictions. And when application
programmers write software for Apple's App
Store, they must follow that company's regimen and processes to the
In case it wasn't clear before, there is a new crusade
among the mobile Web, or rather an old crusade with newer players, with Apple unapologetically waving the proprietary flag
and Google taking up the open mantle.
While it will please many developers that Android 2.2
will support Flash, it could also
extend the fragmentation issue
plaguing the OS. Android 1.5, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.1 all comprise the four flavors of Android.
Adding a fifth one to the mix will widen this
fragmentation, especially if Google fails to extend its Flash support from
Android 2.1 to the previous iterations.