Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-06-22

Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile

Adobe Systems has announced the release of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 to its mobile platform partners.

The long-awaited release has been redesigned from the ground up with new performance and mobile-specific features, Adobe officials said. Flash Player 10.1 is the first release that brings the full Web across desktops and devices. Mobile users will now be able to experience millions of sites with rich applications and content inside the browser including games, animations, rich Internet applications (RIAs), data presentations and visualizations, e-commerce, music, video, audio, and more.

Already one of the top free apps on Android Market today, Flash Player 10.1 will be available as a final production release for smartphones and tablets once users are able to upgrade to Android 2.2 "Froyo." Devices supporting "Froyo" and Flash Player 10.1 are expected to include the Dell Streak, Google Nexus One, HTC Evo, HTC Desire, HTC Incredible, Droid by Motorola, Motorola Milestone, Samsung Galaxy S and others.

On June 22, Adobe announced that Flash Player 10.1 also was released to mobile platform partners to be supported on devices based on Android, BlackBerry, Palm WebOS, future versions of Windows Phone, LiMo, MeeGo and Symbian OS, and is expected to be made available via over-the-air downloads and to be preinstalled on smartphones, tablets and other devices in the coming months.

"We are thrilled that more than three million Flash designers and developers are now able to unleash their creativity on the world of smartphones, tablets, netbooks, televisions and other consumer electronics," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of Platform Business at Adobe, in a statement. "The combined power of the leading rich media technology platform with millions of passionate creatives is sure to impact the world in ways we haven't even imagined yet."

Device and technology partners including ARM, Brightcove, Dell, Google, HTC, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung, Texas Instruments and others announced more specifics around their support for Flash Player 10.1.

In addition, content publishers including AgencyNet, AKQA, Armor Games, Blitz,, HBO, JustinTV, Kongregate, Mochi Media, Msnbc Digital Network, Turner, Nickelodeon, Odopod, Photobucket, RAIN, Roundarch, Sony Pictures, South Park Studios, USA Network, Viacom, Warner Brothers and many others have also started to optimize Flash content to deliver the best possible experience within the context of smaller screens, which includes larger buttons for interactions, layout adjustments for mobile screens and more.

"Although it is labeled a dot release, Flash Player 10.1 is a significant update that includes a number of new performance and mobile specific features," said Al Hilwa, program director of the Application Development Program at IDC. "This allows consumers to see a much bigger part of the Web and allows developers to bring their Flash Platform skills to a much bigger swath of devices."

Flash Player 10.1 delivers new interaction methods with support for mobile-specific input models. Support for an accelerometer allows users to view Flash content in landscape and portrait mode. With Smart Zooming, users can scale content to full-screen mode, delivering immersive applicationlike experiences from a Web page. Performance optimization work with virtually all major mobile silicon and platform vendors makes efficient use of CPU and battery performance.

The new Smart Rendering feature ensures that Flash content is running only when it becomes visible on the screen, further reducing CPU and battery consumption. With Sleep Mode, Flash Player automatically slows down when the device transitions into screen saver mode. Advanced Out-of-Memory Management allows the player to effectively handle non-optimized content that consumes excessive resources, while automatic memory reduction decreases content usage of RAM by up to 50 percent. Flash Player pauses automatically when events occur such as incoming phone calls or switching from the browser to other device functions. Once users switch back to the browser, Flash Player resumes where it paused.

"For the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to test an Android Froyo device loaded with a beta of Flash Player 10.1," said Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, in a statement. "The overall experience and performance of Flash has been impressive. Mobile users now have access to full Web pages with rich Flash content on millions of sites. With the new mobile-specific features, developers also have an important opportunity to help shape the way Web content, games, touch capabilities and more are presented across platforms and devices as Froyo and other platforms deliver full Flash support."

Comparing Flash Player to Apple


Discussing the relevance of Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile as compared with Apple's mobile platform, IDC's Hilwa said: "Well, today there is no uniform way to code an application for all major mobile platforms (I am counting at least 6 for smartphones, plus countless Linux derivatives). If you are a developer or content owner and want to bring your ware to these platforms, you have to have a separate effort for each platform. With Flash 10.1, at least you can use one effort for multiple platforms, except for the iPhone, which you then have to decide whether to address or how to address. For now, Apple has huge momentum, and it is likely to be supported with a separate effort, which will make it even more pressing to use a common way to target the other platforms to lower development costs."

Moreover, Hilwa notes that he recognizes that HTML5 is in some ways a competitor to the Flash Player, "but the browser makers, who have to implement HTML5, will have to do the same optimizations on HTML5 to bring it up to speed, including doing whatever remedial work on the new codec from Google to make it comparable with H.264. Flash and Silverlight will remain the choice for high-end RIA apps for a long time to come, but as HTML5 gets more broadly implemented over the next five years, it will see more usage for sure."

On June 10, Adobe delivered Flash Player 10.1 for the Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. In a blog post describing that release, Paul Betlam of the Flash Player engineering team at Adobe, said performance and power management were two key concerns for the latest release. Said Betlam:

"With Flash Player 10.1 we aligned our development efforts to create a single run-time that works across desktops and devices. Performance and power efficiency was a huge focus since different devices have varying sized processors and memory, and we needed to ensure Flash Player 10.1 would work across all of them. So we made a number of changes to Flash Player that directly translate to faster execution and reduced resource consumption. We achieved some large gains in reducing the amount of memory used at runtime, particularly for bitmap-intensive apps."

Adobe also announced the availability of Adobe AIR on June 10. Developers can now deploy applications built for AIR 2 on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The Adobe AIR run-time is already installed on nearly 300 million desktop computers. AIR provides developers with a feature-rich environment for delivering rich applications outside the browser-mobile or otherwise-and across multiple operating systems.

In a June 10 blog post, Arno Gourdol, director of engineering for Adobe AIR, said:

"We have made huge improvements in the overall performance of the run-time. Without changing your AIR apps, they will now use less CPU and up to 30 percent less memory.

"We are also introducing dozens of new features and hundreds of new APIs for developers to take advantage of. For example, our much improved networking APIs will make it possible to build new apps, from multiplayer games to enterprise collaboration apps. AIR is now even more tightly integrated with the operating system, including better interaction with the file system, detecting mounting and unmounting of volumes, improved printing APIs, support for native installers and, of course, one of our most requested features, support for integrating native code with your application using the NativeProcess API."

Moreover, Lee Graham, co-founder of TRImagination, which uses Adobe AIR, said, "Adobe AIR 2 is the most robust and versatile yet. With minimum development effort, I was able to convert my AIR for Android app into a desktop app that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and even Linux. Being able to reuse 90 percent of my code to build an application that runs on desktops, as well as mobiles, is truly an amazing feature. AIR 2 has evolved into a ubiquitous platform." 

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