Late Thursday, an extraordinary thing happened: Adobe announced in a blog post that it would not provide Flash Player support for devices running Android 4.1, and that it would pull the plugin from the Google Play store on August 15. The retreat comes five years after the introduction of the iPhone, the device which thwarted Flash’s mobile ambitions, almost even before they began.
That Adobe would make such an announcement nearly five years to the day that the first iPhone was sold is kind of funny. I’d like to think that the Flash team has a sense of humor and was well aware of the timing when it posted the blog entry, but I could also see the entry as unintentionally ironic. Either way, it caps off a five-year battle to win the mobile landscape — a war which for Adobe ended in defeat.
At the time the iPhone was announced, lack of support for Adobe Flash seemed like a glaring omission, for a platform that was so hell-bent on being a portable computing device. But it wasn’t until the iPad came out, two-and-a-half years later, that the battle between Apple and Adobe, Flash vs. HTML5, and “open” vs. “proprietary” reached a fever pitch.
The iPad was announced in January at WWDC, but wasn’t available until March. And when it did finally become available, people began to notice that the lack of Flash, which then was the de facto standard for video playback and interactivity on the web, was missing. For the iPhone, not having Flash was a minor annoyance — after all, few other smartphones had very good Flash support at the time… But for the iPad, which in many cases was being used as a laptop replacement, at least for consumption of media, that was a big deal.
It wasn’t long before Google latched onto this and began promising an alternative to the “broken” Apple devices which wouldn’t give users access to the full web, as publishers intended them to view it. It’s tough to believe now, but at one point, Flash on mobile devices was actually considered a feature. There was Google’s Andy Rubin in April 2010, announcing that Android would have full Flash support in Froyo, the next version of the operating system to be released.
Battle lines were drawn, and just a few days later, Steve Jobs issued his epic missive “Thoughts on Flash,” which sought to explain, once and for all, why Apple didn’t — and wouldn’t ever — integrate Flash into its mobile and tablet devices. There were numerous reasons, and Jobs debunked the trope of Flash being “open,” as well as its ability to access the full web. He also brought up security, reliability, performance, and battery life issues that plagued devices using the plugin.
Most importantly, though, Apple didn’t want Adobe developers to create cross-platform apps which didn’t take advantage of the most latest features, development libraries and tools. Jobs wrote:
“Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.”
It turns out Jobs was right. When Flash finally did ship on Android devices, it didn’t provide users with the full web, as was promised. Android users who wished to watch videos on Hulu through the Flash browser, for instance, were met with a message saying that the content wasn’t available on the mobile web. Same thing for users who tried to access most premium video sites on Google TV, which also supported Flash. More importantly, even when those videos or interactive Flash elements did appear on Android devices, they were often wonky or didn’t perform well, even on high-powered phones.
The end result was that users stopped seeing Flash on mobile devices as a good thing, and developers quit trying to support the framework on those devices.
But the impact of that battle goes beyond just how people view content on mobile phones. While pretty much all developers have settled on building native apps or coding for the mobile web when trying to reach those users, the battle has also had an impact on the way that developers think about multi platform web development. Even when not building for 4-inch screen, they’re increasingly turning to HTML5 to build new user experiences or render interactive applications, rather than writing to be seen in the Flash player.
Video might be the last industry where the Adobe Flash Player continues to have a hold on how content is displayed, but even then, a growing number of sites are moving to HTML5-based video players for delivery. YouTube and Vimeo are leading that charge, displaying their videos in a HTML5 player first, when available, and only falling back to Flash when the player isn’t supported. And many others are following that lead.
Frankly, Flash had never been a huge business for Adobe, even when development for interactive websites using the plugin were in high demand. As time goes on, it will become an even less important part, as its development tools — where Adobe makes the bulk of its revenue — focus on catering to a developer base that is increasingly interested in building HTML5-based web applications. As more can be accomplished in-browser without a plugin, that’s good news for users and developers alike.
Read the original post: Steve Would Be Proud: How Apple Won The War Against Flash
Adobe has announced that it is improving its cloud collaboration and web conferencing software, with the launch of Adobe Connect 9. The new version of the software, which is expected to be available in the third quarter, will include integration with Adobe CQ and SiteCatalyst, and also adds more robust collaboration tools for mobile devices.
The integration with CQ and SiteCatalyst, which are both part of Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite, will give user the ability to create better customize their webinars and conferences, as well as more robust measurement tools. Adobe CQ provides templates so that companies can quickly build custom landing pages, registration pages, and the like. That’s aimed at improving the experience for attendees. And integration with SiteCatalyst will provide an engagement dashboard and online analytics, so that marketers putting on webinars can know how engaged viewers were.
Adobe is also making a big push on the mobile front, with the release of Adobe Connect Mobile 2.0. The new mobile platform will add a bunch of new collaboration features for those connecting on tablets and mobile phones, extending usability for presenters that are connecting on the go. They can now use whiteboard and annotation tools, and also can now share documents directly from their mobile devices.
Adobe Connect Mobile also supports HTML5 content, as the Flash proponent goes for accessibility instead of pushing its own technology. That’s not a new thing, of course, but it’s good to see the company continuing to support standards in embracing mobile, in part because, well, it has to.
Following an official security bulletin, Adobe has released a major update to Flash which patches a number of critical vulnerabilities, brings silent updates to OS X in preparation for Mountain Lion and packs a sandboxed Firefox plugin, which has been in talks since February, reports Computerworld.
Adobe’s silent update feature first hit Windows in late March, and we’ve known about its impending arrival on Macs since May, thanks to an early beta release. With these updates, Flash continues to show Mac users love, but there are no signs that Flash will eventually be available in Apple’s Mac App Store, meaning that those with the upcoming Gatekeeper feature left on its highest security setting may never have a chance to download the plugin at all.
Adobe released security updates for Adobe Flash Player 18.104.22.168 and earlier versions for Windows, Macintosh and Linux, Adobe Flash Player 22.214.171.124 and earlier versions for Android 4.x, and Adobe Flash Player 126.96.36.199 and earlier versions for Android 3.x and 2.x. These updates address vulnerabilities that could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.
Image via Computerworld
In terms of the security flaws, Computerworld states that Flash’s most recent vulnerabilities included everything from “memory corruption, integer and stack overflow” to “security bypass bugs.” At the moment, these flaws have yet to be targeted maliciously, and with Adobe’s update they hopefully won’t be.
This is apparently the fifth security update for Flash in just 2012, leaving a sour taste in our mouths about the software’s usefulness as Flash declines in popularity amongst developers.
You can learn more from Adobe’s security bulletin, here.
CloudOn, the tablet app for creating, editing and managing Microsoft Office and Adobe documents in the cloud, has announced that it’s launching throughout Western Europe and Israel as of today.
Just to recap, CloudOn delivers full Microsoft Office capabilities with Dropbox integration, transforming tablets into a mobile workspace capable of accessing your Office documents on the go. As its name suggests, the tool taps the power of the cloud to connect to Microsoft Office software on CloudOn’s servers, so in effect your device is essentially used as a screen. It’s a very effective stop-gap solution until Microsoft pulls its finger out and finally releases a version of Office for iPad and other tablets.
CloudOn launched in the US back in January, bringing Microsoft Office functionality direct to the iPad. It swiftly found its way to pole position in Apple’s free app category, and in response to “enormous demand”, it finally hit Apple’s UK App Store in February.
In April we reported that CloudOn was nearing 1 million downloads, just as it launched v2.0 with Box.com support & email sharing. And the big news last month was that it was extending beyond the iPad and onto Android tablets (Ice Cream Sandwich and Honeycomb tablets, 3.1 or higher), complete with Google Drive integration.
Now, due to huge demand, CloudOn is rolling its iPad and Android tablet apps in Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Iceland and Israel.
CloudOn also provides Adobe Reader to view PDFs – everything from simple forms to complex 3D documents – and a universal viewer for any file, ranging from raw Photoshop images to everyday image files, including: PNG, JPEG and GIF.
Clearly seeking to strike while the iron is hot, CloudOn is also announcing some new productivity features that will be launching across all its markets. The new features allow users to:
CloudOn is a Silicon Valley-based startup that licenses the technology to deliver Microsoft Office and Adobe components of its service.
When it comes to digital magazines, why should tablet owners have all the fun? That’s the sentiment Adobe was espousing earlier today at an event held in New York where they officially pulled back the curtains on their updated Digital Publishing Suite.
You’d be forgiven if you haven’t stumbled across Adobe’s DPS before — as the name sort of implies, it’s meant for publishers to prepare digital editions of their print content for consumption on all sorts of gadgetry. Given their size, tablets have been the obvious focus for content creators, but Adobe’s new update brings (among other things) the ability for them to whip up digital magazines that work well on the iPhone too.
One publisher has already signaled their commitment to tailoring their digital magazine experience to the iPhone — Conde Nast leans pretty heavily on Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite to layout their digital editions, and they revealed that an iPhone-friendly makeover for The New Yorker was in the works. Here’s hoping that some of Conde Nast’s other properties (my fingers are crossed for the exceptionally handsome Wired) get the same treatment, though the shift toward smaller screens will force designers to rethink how users read and engage with that content.
Even with the process for creating rich media content for smaller screens streamlined (Adobe offers up their own best practices here), it’s still no easy feat to devise a handsome, thoughtful way to dive into that content on a smaller screen. That lack of real estate means that publishers will have to get really creative in order to deliver the sort of experience that make digital magazines more compelling than their dead-plant counterparts.