If you’ve kept track of the tech details related to Apple’s iPad announcement, it’s been pretty hard to miss Steve Job’s dismissal of Adobe Flash for the new device—he’s already made known that it has no place in the iPhone OS.
It’s not personal, of course, since so many Mac-based creatives rely on Adobe’s justly top-of-the-heap Photoshop, After Effects, et.al.
You can catch up with some of Job’s arguments in Ryan Tate’s article in Valleywag which details what happened when Jobs presented the iPad to Wall Street Journal editorial staff
Flash, as Adobe seems to constantly point out, is nearly everywhere on the Web and installed in computers as well, helping to make the Internet colorful with animation and graphics. Jobs’ anti-Flash arguments are fairly well known too: that Flash consumes too many CPU cycles, presents too many security holes, and finally is an out-dated technology—something he doesn’t want forward looking iPhone and iPad users to contend with.
But while Tate describes Jobs’ as “brazen in his dismissal of Flash”, the reasons are more complex than those most noised about. John Gruber on his Daring Firelball blog says “the larger issue goes beyond performance. Apple sees the web as a platform based on open standards. Flash isn’t part of that.”
Even if those performance issues are finally solved, Gruber argues, Apple won’t include it in the iPhone OS since, as he believes, Apple wants to control that whole OS. Apple is keeping the iPad OS closed too, something that’s not been the case with OS X (for which Jobs has blamed Flash for a great number of Mac crashes and other flaky performance issues).
To replace Flash, Jobs and Apple are pushing the interactive capabilities in HTML5, an open source standard not controllable by any one company. (HTML5 is a huge rewrite of the code that underlies the whole Web, so it will be implemented over a very long–in Web years–12 year time frame from now, even though some minor capabilities are now working with a first considerable stage planned by 2012. There’s more about this complex roll-out here.)
But on 9to5 Mac, Seth Weintraub in a blog entitled “The upcoming Apple vs. Flash battle” says that bringing tools to market to build interactive applications rivaling those now on hand for Flash/AIR are “years away at best”.
While Weintraub agrees that the first mobile devices running Flash will burn through batteries, he thinks the situation will improve quickly with more potent CPUs and GPUs coming to market. This will actually benefit Apple’s rival Android, as devices with Flash “instantly have more “applications” on them than the iPhone.”
So all is not gloomy in Adobe-land. Even of more import to anyone creating graphics and editing video, says millimeter’s Trevor Boyer, is Adobe’s upcoming release of Creative Suite 5, which will charge forward with support for 64-bit operation only (OSX 10.6 or Win7 64) while introducing the Mercury Playback Engine, a completely retooled codec wrangler.
The latter will supposedly be a game changer compared to what’s currently available as it uses a computer’s GPU (i.e. Nvidia only at this point) and CPU in parallel to deliver capabilities including real-time debayering of Red camera files (Red sells a $5k card to do that now), native Red 4K multicam editing, and Red keying; speedy AVCHD playback and scrubbing; zipping through nine layers of P2 files at a time; and accelerated rendering for exports.
Mercury is set to support Geforce GTX285, nVidia Quadro CX,FX4800, or FX580, with newer nVidia cards added to the list as they are released.
At the moment all of that quick, speedy editing comes courtesy of Adobe’s upcoming CS5 Premiere NLE only (look for it in late Spring). Photoshop and After Effects will surely have speed ups of their own going 64-bit native and supporting Nvidia’s Cuda architecture, but so far the Mercury Playback Engine looks like an Adobe exclusive.
Whether that makes it any more attractive to Avid and Final Cut Pro users doesn’t look probable, but the technology, bundled tightly within the whole CS5 suite, could prove attractive to many more potential users worldwide. It should be especially tempting to those shooting HD with DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, and others; this fast growing contingent is one Adobe will be targeting with the new suite. And why not? They’re one group already overwhelmingly tied to Photoshop as their top app.