2/13/08
6:51 am

Flash on iPhone, Really?

So you may have heard that there is a rumor going around that the Adobe Flash Player is coming for the iPhone very soon. But I’m inclined to doubt it.
First of all, there is only a single point of information for all of the articles you may have seen: a Gear Live blog post. Sites have simply been re-blogging that post, and not so well. For instance, the idea that Flash will come out alongside the iPhone SDK is only stated as speculation.
In an addendum to the post, they claim that it has been only “business negotiations” that has held up Flash on the iPhone. But that doesn’t make sense. Flash is available on all sorts of devices from all sorts of large and small companies.
As someone who works with and knows Flash pretty well, I’ve always thought that it had to do more with the touch screen interface, processor power, and battery life. Flash can accept the full array of mouse events, and keyboard events. Yet the iPhone doesn’t have a keyboard and apps must call up a virtual keyboard at exactly the right moment. This would be tricky for Flash, as developers can pretty much design any type of user interface they want. How will Flash deal with that? How will it deal with the fact that “mouse position” doesn’t really exist on the iPhone?
Flash apps can come in all flavors — from simple animations to powerful applications. So the low-powered processor on the iPhone may have trouble with the higher end. And I’m sure Flash sucks battery life. I know this was a problem when I was testing Flash mobile application on Pocket PC devices.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Flash usually comes in two versions: Flash and Flash mobile. The first is on Mac, PCs, and other devices. The Flash mobile version is a light-weight version for small mobile phones. It is usually several versions behind the main Flash player, and is missing some functionality. So, for instance, you may have Flash 9 on your Mac, but Flash mobile that acts like a light version of Flash 7 on your phone.
If Flash mobile shows up on your iPhone, you may be very disappointed that many newer Flash apps don’t work at all.