Apple to Allow Hardware Accelerated Flash on Macs; Android Gets Flash, Air

Apple has banned Flash from the iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad platforms and the company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, has even gone as far as to talk a bit of trash about Adobe’s flagship product.  Even making a port to iPhone’s native code using Adobe’s CS5 development tools has been outlawed by Apple, leading to Adobe finally declaring it was dropping support altogether for the iPhone, native ports or otherwise.

Despite the pair’s icy relationship, Apple did just quietly release a new API that will allow for Adobe to finally offer hardware accelerated Flash on Mac computers.  Technical Note TN2267 describes the new API, the Video Decode Acceleration Framework, stating:

The Video Decode Acceleration framework is a C programming interface providing low-level access to the H.264 decoding capabilities of compatible GPUs such as the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M. It is intended for use by advanced developers who specifically need hardware accelerated decode of video frames.

The move also may benefit a variety of developers outside of Adobe.  Prior to the new API, developers were forced to use Quicktime X for H.264 hardware acceleration, a much more limited option, and one that Adobe rejected.  The new API comes to Mac users courtesy of the 10.6.3 update for Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

That leaves Linux as the only platform that may be left out of the loop when it comes to accelerated Flash.  Adobe says it cannot deliver Linux users hardware acceleration as the various distributions lack a “developed standard API” for H.264 hardware decoding.

While Apple may have shown Adobe a tiny bit of love for once, Google is really pouring it on thick.  Google’s Android is soon set to receive a Flash update, possibly with the release of the Android 2.2 operating system upgrade.  

Android will soon receive not only hardware-accelerated Flash 10.1, but also Adobe Air, a platform that lets Flash apps run outside the browser like traditional applications.  

Google’s Andy Rubin, Android team VP of Engineering, announced in a blog Wednesday that support for Air and Flash is officially coming.  He writes, “Google is working to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. Today we’re excited that, working with Adobe, we will be able to bring both AIR and Flash to Android.”

The full announcement of Google’s plans with Adobe will come at the Google I/O event in May.

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