Froyo, Gingerbread Get Full Frontal Flash

Adobe announced Monday that its Flash Player 10.2 update is now available on Android Market.

The update’s a production release for Android 2.2 and 2.3 but an initial beta release for Android 3.0.1.

That news may impact the Motorola Xoom, as it runs Android 3.0 aka “Honeycomb.” Android 3.0.1 is Honeycomb with the latest Google updates.

What’s in Flash Player 10.2

Adobe lists a number of new features of Flash Player 10.2. One is enhanced performance for newer, high-profile phones and tablets, including the Motorola Atrix 4G, Motorola Xoom and the LG Optimux 2X.

Another is automatic soft keyboard support. Flash Player 10.2 comes with a new Action Script API (application programming interface) that lets developers automatically launch and display the soft keyboard.

Some features listed are for Android 3.0.1 and higher only. These are hardware-accelerated video presentation for H.264 and deeper integration with the Android browser rendering engine.

Flash Player 10.2 leverages the Stage Video rendering pipeline so users of Android 3.0 tablets such as the Motorola Xoom will experience smooth playback of high-definition Flash video content and reduced CPU usage.

Deeper integration of Flash Player with the enhanced Android 3.0 browser delivers faster and better rendering of rich interactive Web content.

Fighting Yesterday’s War?

Why is Adobe only offering an initial beta release of the Flash 10.2 update for Honeycomb instead of doing a GA release? Adobe didn’t respond to requests for comment by press time.

“Honeycomb is very recent, and it is unlikely that Adobe has been able to test it across hardware platforms, so there will be some breakage,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, suggested.

“This tells folks to use the product at their own risk so that breakage has less likelihood of reflecting poorly on Adobe,” Enderle told LinuxInsider.

Xooming Into Trouble?

When Motorola announced the Xoom at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, it had said that the device would, among other things, play video and other rich Web content seamlessly with Adobe Flash Player.

If Adobe doesn’t run into any more technical difficulties, it might put out Flash 10.2 update for Honeycomb as a full GA release within 90 days, Enderle suggested.

However, the lack of full Flash functionality isn’t that big an issue, contended Bob O’Donnell, a program vice president at IDC.

“There are a million software delays, and this is just another one,” O’Donnell told LinuxInsider. “There are much bigger problems for the Xoom than Flash functionality — and those are related to its price,” he added.

The WiFi-only Xoom is priced at US$600; a model with WiFi and 3G is priced at $800. However, the WiFi-only version won’t arrive in stores until later this month, and rival Apple sells a version of the iPad 2 — albeit with less storage capacity — for $100 less.

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