Flash 10.1 for Android beta unveiled: Hulu a no-show, Froyo now a minimum requirement

What was once just one echelon above a myth is now finally coming to fruition. Adobe is pushing out a beta of its Flash 10.1 player alongside Google's own beta for Android 2.2 "Froyo." The general release for Flash is still on track for June, according to Anup Murarka of the Mobile and Devices team. The announcement doesn't come without caveats, however, and the bad news is that Froyo is now a minimum requirement -- according to Murarka, the APIs needed for its software only now exist in 2.2. Also not on the docket? Hulu -- it's being blocked due to content licensing issues, and our inquiries with that company turned up nil. Flash 10.1 will be available as a Marketplace download, but Adobe intends to work with as many OEMs as possible to preload it on devices so it's there at purchase. Speaking of OEMs, Murarka teased that we should expect announcements later this month and the next regarding Flash integration in TVs. Be sure to head on after the break as we talk a little more in-depth with Murarka about 10.1.

As for all there is to see, hear, and do with Froyo, Google's big keynote is going on now -- stay tuned, and in the meantime, why not check out our hands-on impressions of Android 2.2! Oh, and did we mention Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch is gonna be on this week's Engadget Show? %Gallery-93358%

Why not 2.1?

There are API changes in the OS that Flash is dependent on, and if we're able to find alternatives, then certainly we'd look to support Eclair as well. At this point, the APIs we need are only in Froyo. A good example is outside of the browser, our Air team have been working with Eclair and think they can continue to support a significant chunk of Air SDK. The Air SDK should be usable on an Eclair platform.

So devices that'll support Froyo will be able to download flash 10.1 plugin. Other pop Android devices, we're working with those OEMs / Google to determine specific timing.

For devices already in market, Flash 10.1 player is separate from Froyo. For future devices, our goal is to work with OEMs [and not Google] in integrating Flash 10.1 from the get-go. On some platforms, you may see it as system software update, but specifically on Android, it'll be marked as available download for free from Android market... but it's also tagged as system component / update because we're utilizing browser-specific APIs not generally available. There is work under way for other platforms, so we are still working with the Symbian teams, the RIM team for BlackBerries, Palm webOS, [and] Windows Phone. You'll see first desktops and OS platforms, smartphones, [and then] we do have TV work later as well... you should see announcements later this month and next month from OEMs for TV integration.

Beyond Froyo, what are the specific hardware requirements for 10.1?

We think that's a reasonable connection, certainly for android, tying Froyo to it. We've not yet seen Froyo on lower-end systems. If that happens, we may need to adjust [the requirements]. Right now that's a simple mapping to make, but there is a hardware requirement in terms of speed and capability. ARM11, Cortex A8, A9, Tegra / Atom-class processor. If you're running a 300MHz, it's gonna fall below our requirements. It'll perform terribly and may fail.

Hypothetically, will the program still let you try to run it?

I don't think there's a blanket popup preventing you from trying. It'll try to run. Another good example is if you have an adequate CPU but the memory's too low. If you try to run a browser with 8MB of RAM, [it won't work]. Without a body of devices, we can't really do comparative testing yet.

What about non-Android devices?

I think 600MHz+ class CPUs, 64MB RAM typically allocated for browser usage, perhaps more. Things that would fall easily into the top half of smartphone. We'll try to refine further when we finish working on each OS.

What are you doing to keep websites from blocking mobile Flash players, like Hulu?

Hulu is a legal issue. It's kind of similar to... folks have written about BBC iPlayer in the past. It's a great app, we understand the interest, but there's content licensing issues that prevent it for global or even mobile devices. It's not something that is a technical issue at all.

How does 10.1 compare to Flash Lite 4?

It continues as an available runtime. It is something that will be suitable for lower-end devices, and so it's not something that gets replaced on a wholesale basis. There is significant amount of similarity -- both support ActionScript 3, for example. But 10.1 is a true single code base with the desktop, whereas Flash Lite is an evolution of the same run-time for mobile we've developed for several years. So the way to think about it is, Flash Lite grew from mobile and has grown up, and here we're taking 10.1 and bringing from the desktop down.

Will there be a Flash Lite 5?

I can't say what happens, we're not ready to talk about future roadmaps. It's really depends on how the market evolves, how Flash involves, and what capabilities we can expect in these various platforms. To think more broadly, I expect smartphones to become cap and features in a broader range of platforms beyond top tier devices. I think it'll evolve over time. There'll continue to be a need for Flash Lite and on low end devices. I don't see it going away. but if those low-end devices end up with today's capabilities, then 10.1 could be a reasonable replacement in the future. We just don't know yet.

What about Flash Lite 4 for Android 2.1 Eclair?

That's up to the OEMs.