Flash 10.2 hits Android today, Adobe hopes for viewable 720p playback in a matter of weeks

Today, Adobe Flash 10.2 will hit the Android Market for devices running Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb, and by now you're probably familiar with what it brings -- increased performance for dual-core smartphones running Android 2.2 and Android 2.3, and the promise of seriously sped-up Flash content and better battery life for Android 3.0 tablets (not to mention Flash, period). Well, we've already spent a full day with the latest build of Flash 10.2 for Android and quizzed the company thoroughly about the release, and there are a couple surprises in store.

First off, you don't absolutely need a dual-core phone to take advantage of Flash 10.2 -- Adobe VP Danny Winokur told us, and we confirmed in testing, that there are slight performance improvements on earlier devices too. With our trusty Droid 2's 1Ghz OMAP3 chip, we saw a slight but noticeable boost in framerate when playing a YouTube trailer at 480p, which admittedly only took that particular video from "unwatchable" to merely "fairly jerky." With the Tegra 2-toting Motorola Xoom, however, 480p videos ran perfectly smooth, even as the tablet had trouble rendering 720p content as anything but a series of images. However, Adobe says even that will change soon, as this beta release doesn't take advantage of full hardware acceleration -- it's actually turned off right now. Though the Tegra 2 is natively decoding video, Adobe told us that hardware rendering and compositing will be added in a subsequent release, and when they are it "will bring 720p playback to a really smooth, enjoyable level." We also noticed that phone temperatures seemed slightly cooler with Flash 10.2, which suggests better battery life. The other work-in-progress is Flash integration into Google's Honeycomb browser, which presently has trouble detecting finger taps when Flash isn't played full screen, but which will -- Adobe hopes -- play exactly the same inside and outside the browser when work on Flash 10.2 is complete. Sounds promising, no? Then why not download it yourself this evening and give it a go?