Adobe circumvents Apple to bring Flash apps to iPhone

Before coming up with the work-around, Adobe had said it needed more cooperation from Apple to bring Flash to the popular handheld

Adobe Systems has come up with a way to let developers write Flash applications for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices, even without the support of Apple.

Adobe has been trying to work with Apple for more than a year to get its Flash Player software running on Apple's products, but has said it needs more cooperation from Apple to get the work done. It has now come up with something of a work-around.

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At its Adobe Max developer conference in Los Angeles Monday, Adobe announced that the next release of Flash Professional, due in beta later this year, will allow developers to write applications and compile the code to run on Apple devices.

"We are ecstatic to announce that we're enabling you to use your Flash development tools to build applications and compile them to run natively on the iPhone," said John Loiacono, head of Adobe's Creative Solutions business unit, who made the announcement at Adobe Max.

Adobe noted that it is still not able to offer Flash Player for Apple devices, because Apple's license terms don't allow plug-ins for its Safari browser. "Applications for the iPhone built with Adobe Flash Professional CS5 do not include any runtime interpreted code," the company said in a statement.

However, Flash Professional CS5 will include an option for developers to take the code they wrote for devices that do include Flash Player, compile it to run as a native, stand-alone application on the iPhone, and sell it through Apple's App Store.

Adobe demonstrated a few Flash applications running on an iPhone, including a game called "Chroma Circuit" and Adobe's own Connect Pro conferencing product. More information is at Adobe's Web site.

In announcing the move, Adobe executives mocked Apple in a humorous "myth-busting" video segment in which they tried to integrate Flash with the iPhone by mincing the device in a blender with a Flash Player CD and mashing the two products together with a steamroller.

The only two devices they could not get Flash running on, they said in the video, were the iPhone and an old rotary-dial telephone.

Still, the company's ambition remains to get its Flash Player installed on Apple's products. Having Flash programs run natively on a device, outside the browser, will give them some limitations, like being unable to download SWF files that show how data should be represented.

Adobe is trying to make Flash a ubiquitous platform that developers can write to across PCs, netbooks, phones, and TV set-top boxes. It announced Monday that a beta of its FlashPlayer 10.1 software will be available later this year for desktops and for Windows Mobile and Palm webOS devices, with support for Symbian and Google Android phones coming next year.

While the iPhone capability will be offered initially only in Flash Professional, the goal is to eventually offer it with Flash Builder and Flash Catalyst as well, CTO Kevin Lynch told reporters. The final version of Flash Professional CS5 is expected in the first half of next year.

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