All posts tagged ‘Flash Player’

File Under: Mobile, Multimedia

Adobe: No Flash for You, Android 4.1

No Flashing the Jelly Bean. Image: Google

The bells tolling the death of Adobe Flash got a bit louder this week.

To go along with the arrival of Google’s new Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” update, Adobe has announced that it will not be developing a certified version of Flash for Android 4.1. Worse for Flash fans, Adobe says it will soon be pulling Flash Player from the Google Play Store.

The move shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Adobe already announced last year that it would cease development of its mobile Flash Player. Still, if you were hoping Google might give Flash a bit of a reprieve by including support in the latest version of Android, well, we’ve got bad news for you.

Beginning Aug. 15, Adobe plans to start limiting access to Flash in the Google Play Store to mobile devices that already have Flash installed. In other words, if your Android phone shipped with Flash installed — what Adobe refers to as a “certified version” of mobile Flash — then you can keep getting updates through the Google Play Store. If you’re planning to buy a new phone running Android 4.1, you won’t be installing Flash after the fact.

The reasoning behind the move is that any devices that don’t have Flash Player installed out of the box are, in Adobe’s words, “increasingly likely to be incompatible with Flash Player and will no longer be able to install it from the Google Play Store.”

There is a way around the new limitations if you’re a developer who needs access to Flash (or, presumably, a user who doesn’t mind hacking your phone): Flash Player for Android will remain available in Adobe’s archive of released Flash Player versions. Also, little birds flying around Google I/O this week tell us that the Flash plugin actually does seem to work with Android 4.1. If you’d like to try it for yourself, better hurry up and grab it while you can.

File Under: HTML5, Multimedia

Adobe Hopes Impressive 3-D Graphics Can Save Flash 11

Adobe has announced Flash Player 11, a significant update for the company’s beleaguered browser plugin. Flash Player 11 will give Flash developers access to an impressive set of hardware-accelerated 3-D graphics tools.

Alongside Flash 11 Adobe has also announced version 3 of the Flash-based runtime, Adobe Air.

Flash Player 11 and Air 3 are scheduled for release in early October. Adobe hasn’t set an exact date, but the company’s annual Max conference, which runs October 1-5, seems a safe bet.

Adobe’s Flash browser plugin has taken a beating in the last few years, losing many of its traditional web roles like video or animations to the new features in HTML5. Additionally, the mobile world has not been kind to Flash. You won’t find the plugin on any Apple products, nor will it be part of the upcoming Windows 8 Metro platform.

While there are no doubt many Webmonkey readers who would like to see Flash disappear forever, Adobe continues to push Flash in directions which, so far, HTML5 can’t compete.

For this release that means the world of online 3-D graphics rendering. Flash 11 isn’t trying to compete with HTML5 or even reclaim its former strongholds like video (though for streaming DRM video it remains the only real choice). Instead Adobe is going after the burgeoning online gaming market with an impressive new 3-D rendering API.

The new Stage 3D rendering in Flash 11, nicknamed Molehill, is a very low level API for fully hardware accelerated 2-D and 3-D graphics. Adobe claims that Molehill can “efficiently animate millions of objects on screen, smoothly rendered at 60 frames per second.” The end result, according to Adobe, is “console-quality games” in the browser.

Indeed the videos Adobe has released showing off the new Molehill-based graphics are impressive.

Of course one day WebGL may well mean that Flash 11′s 3-D performance is possible without the Flash plugin. Unfortunately Internet Explorer still lacks WebGL support and WebGL’s performance varies considerably from browser to browser. For now Flash 11 looks to have the edge in 3-D graphics, whether or not that will last remains to be seen.

3-D Graphics aren’t the only thing new in this release, Flash 11 is now a 64-bit application on Windows, OS X and Linux. Adobe has also announced the release of Air 3.0 with improved tools for installing Air and converting Air apps to native iOS and Android applications.

If you hate Flash the latest release probably isn’t going to change your mind. Nor is it likely to convince Apple or Microsoft that Flash should be apart of their OSes. But if you’re a game developer who’d like to build console-quality games on the web, Flash 11 is your friend.

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File Under: Browsers

Chrome Covers Your Tracks with new ‘Flash Cookie’ Killer

Google has updated the dev channel of its Chrome web browser, adding a new option to delete so-called Flash Cookies. Technically known as “local shared objects” (LSO), Flash Cookies don’t go away when you clear your browser-based cookies. Unless, that is, you happen to be using the dev channel of Google Chrome.

Chrome’s new feature adds Flash LSOs to the list of items you can delete when you clear your browser data. To try out the new tool, grab the latest copy of the Chrome dev channel and head to the wrench menu. Look for the “tools” menu item and then select Clear Browsing Data.

Chrome’s new Flash Cookie cleaning tool works because of the new ClearSiteData API, which was developed by Adobe, Google and Mozilla. The goal is to make deleting plugin-based cookies as simple as normal, browser-based cookies. In Flash’s case the new API will make its official debut when Flash Player 10.3 arrives (it’s currently in the release candidate stage). Prior to the API deleting Flash cookies required navigating through the Flash Player settings dialog and visiting Adobe’s website.

Unfortunately most users are not aware of LSOs, let alone the labyrinthian process required to delete them. The new API turns over the task of managing plugin-based cookies to the web browser, meaning you can control everything from one place. At the moment only the Flash plugin supports the new API, but hopefully other plugins will follow suit.

Since Mozilla has been a part of the API development process, look for Firefox nightlies and Aurora to offer similar options in the coming months.

One thing to keep in mind, unless you have Flash 10.3 installed, the new API won’t work, which is part of the reason you’ll find the new features in Chrome — which ships with Flash built in — and not in Chromium, which does not bundle Flash. Once Flash 10.3 is a final release, look for other browsers to begin offering LSO delete tools as well.

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File Under: CSS, HTML5, Web Standards

Adobe Unveils ‘Wallaby’ Flash-to-HTML5 Converter

Even though its Flash technology is used as a punching bag by web standards fans, Adobe has been working hard to embrace HTML5. The company released its own HTML5 video player, and Adobe Illustrator and Dreamweaver CS5 contain a number of new HTML5 export tools. Now Adobe is turning its HTML5 attentions to Flash with the release of Wallaby, a new Flash-to-HTML5 converter.

Wallaby is a free Adobe AIR application that allows designers and developers to convert Adobe Flash files (FLAs) into standards-based HTML5, CSS 3 and Javascript files.

Wallaby isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, but you can grab the pre-release version from Adobe Labs if you’d like to experiment.

Adobe first showed off Wallaby at the company’s MAX conference last year and the target use was pretty clear: Apple’s iOS devices. Since iOS doesn’t support Adobe Flash, developers using Flash for their web content need an alternate solution for iOS mobile devices — enter Wallaby.

Because iOS is the primary use case for Wallaby, the generated code relies on some WebKit-only CSS features, which means that Wallaby’s results won’t work in every web browser. In other words, Wallaby is not yet a magic bullet for those who’d like to make the jump from Flash to HTML5. For example, any timeline animations in your Flash file will be converted into CSS 3 Animations.

It’s great to see Adobe using the CSS Animations standard, but sadly the animations spec only works reliably in WebKit-based browsers (Safari, Chrome and Mobile Safari). Once other browsers implement CSS 3 animations, Wallaby could become a more useful, general purpose tool.

Wallaby also won’t convert some Flash elements to HTML5 because there simply is no HTML5 equivalent. For example, Flash’s blend modes and some Flash filters won’t convert, but Wallaby will warn you when something in your FLA file won’t be exported to HTML5. For a complete list of supported Flash features, see the Wallaby documentation page on Adobe Labs.

Wallaby’s biggest Achilles’ heel is that it can’t convert ActionScript to JavaScript.

Adobe’s Tom Barclay, senior product manager for the Adobe Creative Suite business, tells Webmonkey that, for now, the primary use case for Wallaby is converting simple Flash banner ads into something iOS users can see. For that use case, Wallaby works well. For anything beyond it, you’ll have to break out your text editor and tweak things by hand.

But just because Wallaby won’t do it for you, doesn’t mean it can’t be a starting point for converting more complex Flash movies. Wallaby will even preserve any instance names in your Flash movie, making it easier to do the AS-to-JS conversion yourself.

Right now Wallaby is at the preview-release stage and Adobe is looking to gauge developer interest. If you’ve got suggestions for how Adobe can improve Wallaby, or want to let the company know which Flash features you’d like to see added, be sure to let them know.

Barclay did not rule out the possibility that Wallaby might one day be able to turn ActionScript into JavaScript (both languages are based on ECMAScript and have considerable overlap).

While Barclay said Adobe has no firm plans at this point, he hinted that eventually Wallaby’s conversion tools could be rolled into Flash Professional itself as an export option. For now though, if you’d like to take Wallaby for a spin, head over to Adobe Labs and download a copy.

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File Under: Multimedia

New Flash Player 10.2 is Faster, Lighter on the CPU

Adobe has released Flash Player 10.2, an update that focuses primarily on speed and performance improvements. New in Flash 10.2 is something Adobe calls “Stage Video hardware acceleration,” which the company claims will “decrease processor usage and enable higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.”

The Stage Video hardware acceleration means that Flash Player 10.2 can leverage your graphics card for not just H.264 hardware decoding (which works in Flash Player 10.1) but also color conversion, scaling, and blitting.

To try out the new Flash Player 10.2 beta, head over to the Adobe download page. If you’re using Google Chrome, which bundles Flash Player with the browser, look for an update to arrive in the near future.

The Flash Player 10.2 beta gave us mixed results when it came to speed and the final release is no different. Windows users will see the biggest speed bump, particularly with 1080p video that has been optimized with the Stage Video hardware acceleration. Mac users will need to be on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in order for Stage Video to take advantage of hardware acceleration.

For the beta I ran some test on the Mac platform (using Firefox and Chromium) using several 1080p videos on YouTube. The beta put CPU usage down to the 18-22 percent range, but the final release tops that, rarely climbing over 12 percent CPU use. On Windows (again in Firefox and Chromium) the story is even better, with the numbers hovering in the low single digits.

That’s good news for watching Hd video online, but it also means less drain on your laptop’s batteries, one of the main complaints leveled at Flash Player. Keep in mind though that in order to take advantage of the new Stage Video tools, sites like YouTube and Vimeo will need to alter their video players. So, it may be some time before the full benefit of Stage Video’s improvements makes it to your day-to-day web browsing.

Other new features in Flash Player 10.2 include support for fullscreen mode with dual monitors — meaning that you can have a movie on one screen and keep working on another — and some sub-pixel text rendering improvements which should make Flash text more readable.

As for Flash Mobile, where the benefits of lower CPU usage and less battery drain are even more welcome, Adobe says to “hang tight.” Adobe plans to talk about new versions of Flash Player for Mobile at the Mobile World Congress next week.

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