Adobe Set to Release Flash Player 10.2 for Android

Adobe is getting set to release a key update to its Flash Player software for mobile, making it available as a download for certain smartphones and tablets.

Next Friday, March 18, Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE) plans to offer the Flash Player 10.2 for mobile at the Android Market online store.

In a blog post, Adobe said next Friday’s release will include a more complete, general availability (GA) release for Android 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3 (Gingerbread) devices, while it will be available as a beta release for the newer Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets. Adobe said the GA release of Flash Player 10.2 will also be available pre-installed on many upcoming tablets and smartphones, or delivered as an over-the-air (OTA) update to users who already own the hardware-ready Android devices.

“We have been working very closely with Google to ensure tight integration between Flash Player 10.2 and new OS and browser capabilities in Android 3.0,” Adobe’s Antonio Flores said in the company’s Flash Player Team blog. “The March 18th beta release of Flash Player 10.2 in conjunction with Google’s first system update to Android 3.0 (version 3.0.1) currently underway for the Motorola Xoom will deliver the first phase of our work together. This will be followed by subsequent updates, which will complete the optimizations and result in a production GA release of Flash Player 10.2 for Android 3.0.”

Flores noted several new capabilities in the Flash Player 10.2 release, some specific to Honeycomb. For example, the update includes hardware acceleration for H.264 video for tablets such as the Motorola Xoom running Android 3.0, a feature designed to enable smoother playback of high-definition Flash video content on the Web. “Users will experience reduced CPU usage and higher frame rates for existing H.264 video content,” Flores said.

Adobe and Google tightening relationship

The 10.2 release also integrates Flash more deeply with Android’s browser rendering engine in Honeycomb, which Adobe said will speed browsing the Web and bring the tablet experience closer to the performance users expect on desktop PCs.

Adobe and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) partnership tightened last year following Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) public disparagement of Flash for what it said were security and performance issues, and its efforts to keep Flash from running on the iPad and other Apple devices. Adobe continues to develop ways to get Flash devices running iOS, however.

Today’s announcement comes on the same day Apple made its next generation iPad 2 tablet available for sale. The highly anticipated device continues to get rave reviews, while the response to Motorola’s Xoom tablet has been more mixed, from qualified praise to overt criticism.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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