Flash Player 10.1 for Mobile Arrives

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Adobe shipped Flash Player 10.1 for the desktop weeks ago, and today it's releasing 10.1 for mobile devices. Consumers will need to wait a bit to use it, however, as device makers need to integrate it into their operating systems.

Adobe has shipped the code for Flash 10.1 for mobile devices to its partners and has also made the third beta of Flash 10.1 available to Android 2.2 users. This is the final beta for Android. To use the finished code, Android users will need to wait until Android OS 2.2 (Froyo) is available. A number of Android devices should be compatible, including the Nexus One, Dell Streak, Motorola Droid, HTC Evo, and HTC Incredible.

Besides working with Google, Adobe has shipped the code to the Symbian, Windows Mobile 7, Palm WebOS, BlackBerry, MeeGo, and LiMo development teams. Flash 10.1 probably won't be a part of the Windows Mobile 7 launch, says Anup Murarka, director of technology strategy for Adobe, but it should be available as an update soon after.

This update has been redesigned from the ground up, says Muraka, and includes new features such as multi-touch gestures, support for accelerometers, and support for smart zooming. Most importantly, though, existing Flash content will just work for most users.

To highlight Flash content available for mobile devices, Adobe is launching m.flash.com, a portal for mobile Flash.

Performance has also been strengthened with this release, and 10.1 has been optimized for all major chip and mobile platform vendors (with one notable exception).

Smartphones and tablets released in the later half of the year will likely have Flash 10.1 pre-installed, says Muraka. It will be supported on a range of ARM and x86 processors including the ARM11, Cortex A8 and A9, Intel Atom, Nvidia Tegra, and Qualcomm Snapdragon. Muraka sees support expanding from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes and gaming consoles.

"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," says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies. "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."

Device and technology partners signing on at launch include ARM, Motorola, Dell, RIM, Samsung, Google, HTC, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Intel, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, and Brightcove. Content publishers including Viacom, HBO, MSNBC, Turner, USA Network, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, and CBS Interactive have started to optimize Flash content for smaller screens. For content creators, Flash 10.1 for mobile devices should deliver a more satisfying end-user experience.

"Mobile video today is often disconnected from brand experience. Just as Flash changed the web experience, we'll be able to provide experiences in-line with mobile devices," says Muraka, explaining that video providers won't have to rely on standalone players. Creators will also save money by being able to leverage the same content creation pipelines to deliver video for mobile, he says. Content protection will come some time in the future, he promises, although he can't say when.

For mobile device consumers, the release means a richer online experience.

"There's a lot on the web today that they don't see," Muraka says. "The site's not broken; you're just not seeing all the content that's there."

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