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Flash on the iPhone, but not in the browser

A nice "one more thing" announcement at Adobe MAX this morning: Flash Professional CS5 will enable you to build applications for iPhone and iPod touch using ActionScript 3. These applications will be delivered to iPhone and iPod touch users through the Apple App Store.

So while this is extremely exciting (as in, I just became an iPhone developer in 5 minutes this morning exciting) there are a few things to note:

1. This is only for standalone applications - meaning iPhone/iPod Touch applications that you download from Apple's App Store either on your phone or via iTunes. It does not include Flash played via the Safari mobile web browser. So no online Flash video just yet. Ryan Stewart, an Adobe Platform Evangelist tweeted the following today during the keynote: "When Apple is ready to bring the full Web browsing experience to iPhone users, we'll be ready to bring Flash Player to Safari."

2. You cannot load external SWFs into the apps you compile for the iPhone. The official line on this is: "iPhone applications built with Flash Platform tools are compiled into standard, native iPhone executable packages and there is no runtime interpreter that could be used to run ActionScript bytecode within the application." But in reality, Adobe is just staying within the limits imposed by Apple and their "no running other bytecode in apps" rule.

3. This won't be available until Flash CS5 is released. The good news here is that a public beta of Flash CS5 will be released before the end of 2009.

You can read all about this announcement over on Adobe Labs: Flash Professional CS5 Applications for iPhone, at the official Adobe press release, and in the Adobe Dev Center where they have posted an article about Developing for the Apple iPhone using Flash. The Dev Center article goes into some good technical explanation of what is going on behind the scenes.

There is also an extensive technical FAQ available on Adobe Labs which is worth the read.

Lastly, you can see some quick video of the Mythbusters-type segment they did as the announcement below:

Michiel van der Ros said,

October 6, 2009 @ 12:11 am

Your second point is not exactly correct. You can still load graphical SWF assets. Any code won’t be executed though.

kira pinski said,

October 7, 2009 @ 7:23 am

WoW!! exciting news!! I just had a website built a few months ago http://www.kirapinski.com when it was finished I found out it didn’t work on the iphone..which completely sucks for my clients and me when I need to reference things on the go. Great blog post!! Now there is hope!!!!

Also..I just checked out Leanne Marshall’s site..phenomenal work!

Jon MacDonald said,

October 7, 2009 @ 9:26 am

@Michiel van der Ros: I’m hearing conflicting stories regarding runtime loading of SWF files. Some sources at Adobe say it should work (although no code would be run within that SWF, so it could only be used to load graphical assets at runtime), and others at Adobe are saying that because of Apple’s “no running other bytecode with an app” rule that there is no way a SWF could be loaded at runtime. Time will tell, I suppose.

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