Adobe releases Flash 10.1 for mobiles

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Adobe releases Flash 10.1 for mobiles

Adobe has finally released its Flash Player 10.1 for mobile, the first version to provide full support for Flash content on smartphones and other mobile devices.

However, it seems that end users will typically have to wait until device makers offer an upgrade, and may even have to fork out for a new device in order to enjoy Flash 10.1 on their smartphone or tablet.

Adobe said that Flash Player 10.1 has been released today to mobile platform partners, and will be available for Google's Android, Symbian, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry smartphones, Meego, LiMo and Palm's WebOS.

Users of Android phones should be among the first to get the new Flash Player. A Beta 3 update has now been posted to Android Market, and users will be able to download the full release once their handset is upgraded to the latest Android 2.2 release, codenamed Froyo.

In contrast, owners of Windows Mobile handsets face the disappointment that no current handsets are supported. Adobe officials hinted at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year that Flash Player 10.1 might end up supporting only Windows Phone 7, which is not set to appear on handsets until sometime later this year.

"We agreed with our handset partners and Microsoft that we would focus on Windows Phone 7 instead," said Anup Murarka, Adobe's director of technology strategy for the Flash Platform.

Flash Player 10.1 has been completely redesigned from the ground up for mobile devices, Adobe said. This has meant optimising the software for CPU utilisation and battery consumption, as well as adding support for common features on mobiles, such as multi-touch screens, zooming and auto-switching screen orientation.

The Flash Player is also intelligent enough to throttle back if the handset goes into screen saver mode, and will pause if there is an incoming phone call or the user switches from the browser to another application.

Analysts who have used the beta have been positive about the experience, and Jeffrey Hammond of Forrester Research stated that video and audio worked just fine on sites such as the BBC.

However, it remains to be seen whether Flash content can be displayed satisfactorily on mobile devices. Even desktop computer users find Flash content can sometimes be a drag on performance, and Apple famously blocked Flash Player from being made available to owners of the iPhone and iPad, citing this reason.

Most existing Flash content "will just work", according to Murarka, while content creators are being encouraged to optimise sites to deliver the best possible experience on smaller mobile screens.

"We're seeing three hours video playback over a 3G network on the Nexus One, and four hours of continuous game play," Murarka claimed.

"Filling in the gaps in the mobile web is something we're really proud of, and it really does work."

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