Adobe has confirmed that the latest Android handset from HTC, the Hero, will come with a proper Flash client: version 9 with support for ActionScript 2, with version 10 to follow some time next year.
Mobile phones have long been considered underpowered for a proper Flash experience, and Adobe tried to push a cut-down version of the technology in the hope that companies would create mobile-specific content. But simplicity demands a single standard, and with the increasing processing power and memory of mobile handsets Adobe has finally achieved a single platform that will work across mobile and desktop environments.
Browsing the web on a mobile phone, even when connected to a decent screen and keyboard, can be a frustrating experience. Just about everything is possible - viewing YouTube, navigating AJAX sites and uploading media - but many things require more effort than the desktop equivalent and the lack of Flash support can make some sites hard to use.
Server-side technologies, such as those offered by SkyFire and the latest version of Opera Mobile, provide a Flash experience by doing all the work on a remote server. Having a Flash client on the device removes one of the most compelling attractions of such a server-based architecture, though it can provide a faster browsing experience as well as supporting other technologies yet to be squeezed into a mobile phone.
Adobe has provided a video, showing how well Flash is integrated into the Hero browsing experience. The capability is something of a coup for HTC, though the company isn't planning to limit Flash to its flagship Android handsets, but has joined the OpenScreen project to create an open-source implementation of the Flash 10 client so it can be easily ported to any handset.
That probably means some mid-range handsets will soon be struggling to render animated menus and video interfaces, but as the capabilities increase Flash could find a comfortable home on a wide range of mobile phones. ®