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Apple throws Adobe a bone -- on the Mac

Adobe's Flash Player has never performed as well in Mac OS X as it does on Windows-running PCs. The traditionally poor performance of Adobe's plugin on the Mac has led many iPhone and iPad users to support Apple's decision to keep Flash off of its mobile devices. While the upcoming Flash 10.1 does boast some significant performance improvements over its predecessors, the performance is still pretty terrible compared to h.264, which has access to hardware-accelerated video decoding via the GPUs in Macs.

Adobe's stance has long been to blame Apple for the poor performance of Flash on the Mac, citing Apple's unwillingness to allow third-party developers access to APIs necessary for hardware-accelerated video. Adobe no longer has that excuse to fall back upon: Apple posted a technical note back in late March that removes this restriction and allows third-party developers access to hardware-acceleration APIs for h.264 decoding in compatible GPUs. The technical note describes "a C programming interface providing low-level access to the H.264 decoding capabilities of compatible GPUs" -- meaning only the latest Mac GPUs, the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M and GeForce GT 330M. "It is intended for use by advanced developers who specifically need hardware accelerated decode of video frames," the note continues.

So there you have it, Adobe. The one thing that's supposedly been holding you back from getting decent Flash performance on the Mac is now gone. Now that Apple has removed this "stumbling block" and you're unfettered by Apple's restrictions, the onus is on you to prove that you can deliver a well-crafted Flash plugin for the Mac -- preferably one that doesn't crash constantly or send my fans into a cyclone any time I try to watch full-screen Flash videos.

It will be interesting to see how Adobe responds to this. If Adobe takes advantage of the hardware-acceleration APIs, how much improvement Flash's performance sees as a result will settle the debate once and for all over who's been at fault for Flash's subpar performance on the Mac. Even if Flash sees substantial performance on the Mac as a result of this move, though, there's probably no chance that Apple will relent on its stance regarding Flash on iPhone OS.

[Via MacRumors]
In this article: Adobe, Flash, Flash Player, FlashPlayer, video

Chris Rawson has been using Apple's products on and off since 1982. He was a mostly a Windows user during Apple's "wilderness years" in the mid- to late-90s, but he came back to the Mac in 2003.

From 1995 to 1999, Chris served in the US Navy as a nuclear-rated electrician's mate and performed maintenance duties on an aircraft carrier's twin nuclear power plants. After leaving the Navy, he spent two years working as a Radiation Health Physics Technician in the private sector until a contamination accident convinced him to pursue a different career. He was thoroughly disappointed when the accidental radiation exposure failed to give him any superpowers whatsoever.

From 2007 to 2008, Chris worked as an editor for PR Newswire in Cleveland. While at PR Newswire, he gained inside knowledge of the workings of the US media and an amazing repertoire of anti-Cleveland jokes.

Chris moved to New Zealand in 2008. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Kent State University and has earned a Master of Arts in English from Massey University with upper second-class honours.