Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Frash: Flash 10.1 ported to iPad

By: Matthew Humphries from www.geek.com

Apple and Steve Jobs have made it very clear that Flash will never be an option on devices like the iPhone and iPad. But making that decision is like showing a red rag to a bull–tell people they can’t have something and they’ll surely want it more.

The inevitable has therefore happened, and Flash has been ported to the iPad. You need to jailbreak your iPad of course, but once done, this port works with Safari using a compatibility layer.

It’s called Frash, and an image of it running on iPad can be seen above. An image isn’t good enough to convince people it runs though, so a video has been put on YouTube showing Frash running on a forthcoming iPhone port. The video description gives some more insight into the port:

Frash is a port of the Adobe Flash runtime for Android to the iPhone, using a compatibility layer, by comex…Frash can currently run most Flash programs natively in the MobileSafari browser. Frash uses a multi-process model similar to Chrome on the desktop, so a crash in the Frash/Flash plugin doesn’t take down the browser. Video and keyboard input are currently not supported. The former will require major reverse engineering of the video decoding frameworks on the iPhone, but the latter should be reasonably easy to implement.

The port was done from the Android version of Flash 10.1 by comex who also created the Spirit jailbreak. Here’s the blurry video below showing progress so far:

Frash is open for other developers to help make better/stable. Just visit the Frash GitHub page to learn more if you are interested.

Matthew’s Opinion

I don’t think Apple has much of a chance of winning this battle. There are a lot of people out there who hate Flash, but there’s a lot of websites that support and use it to good effect. Pushing the iPad as a great way to surf the web is fine, but it isn’t the best way because of the lack of Flash support. Due to that decision parts of the web are just broken, and talk of HTML 5 solving the problem is a little premature.

Frash looks like a better solution than Smokescreen which replaced Flash content with Javascript and vector SVG animations. Although a clever solution Smokescreen is meant to be CPU-intensive and slow. The fate of Frash will depend on how much of the Flash feature-set it supports. Comex states that video isn’t supported and will be difficult to get working, so it may not be a perfect solution. Of course, a perfect solution would be Apple support.

Apple will never back down on allowing Flash on its devices, but how long is it going to be before someone finds a way of supporting Flash without a jailbreak? When that happens, you can guarantee it will be one of the most popular iPad (and iPhone) downloads available.

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