Oneupweb : Flash on the iPhone

Recently in September/October, Apple lifted their restrictions on third-party developers to create content for their iOS devices. This reverses Apple’s decision back in April to restrict flash on their iOS products, including the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Steve Jobs had a lot to say about this issue in his post titled Thoughts on Flash. Within this piece Mr. Jobs details the long history between Adobe and Apple. Apple explains overhead problems with Flash, but to me it looks like the bigger issue is that they butt heads over their leading competition (Flash).

There are numerous blogs and commentary on both sides of the aisle. Some say that Apple wants to control and force development of apps specifically for the iOS. Apple claims that Flash, though widely adopted and available, is at its core, proprietary to Adobe.

Apple claims that it adheres to “open” standards that predominate the current web technology, HTML5, CSS and JavaScript; Flash is solely Adobe. Even though Apple has relaxed their stance, it still reserves the ability to approve or reject what may be offered in the App Store. In fact, according to Adobe, there are already applications in the iTunes App Store.

So, what else is available out there for Flash on the iPhone?

  1. There have been a number of Jailbreaks to allow Flash to run on an iPhone, but many users do not want to have to hack their device to make it do as they wish and prefer a supported option.
  1. One recent offering is a browser app called Skyfire that transcodes Flash to HTML5 on their servers before streaming it to your phone. This removes the overhead of processing the Flash content on your phone and allows for better performance. This is similar to applications that have been around to convert Flash to a compatible form of content, except Skyfire does it for you and on the fly. Skyfire only addresses the issue of Flash video and does not allow Flash applications, games or web pages to be rendered on your phone.
  1. Another approach is Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation of Flash applications, which allows for improved performance and Apple licensing compliance by not relying on the previous standard of Just in Time (JIT) compiling on the device at runtime. This method allows for more than just Flash video content. Read Developing for iOS using Flash for more information.

You can always find this Flash on any of the smartphones on the market, including iPhone. However, it may not be available on iOS without Skyfire.

It will be interesting to see how Flash support develops in the coming months now that the door has been opened a little wider by Apple.