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The next major update for Flash on Android mobile devices, version 10.2, will hit the Android Market on March 18, Adobe announced today.
That’s good news for owners of Motorola’s Xoom tablet, as it launched without Flash support two weeks ago. As the first device running Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” on the market, the Xoom landed too early for Adobe to release an updated version of Flash for that OS. Flash 10.2 fixes that.
The update brings Flash support to Android 3.0 devices, and it will upgrade previous Flash software on Android 2.2 and 2.3 phones and tablets. Motorola says that the Android 3.0 version of Flash 10.2 will be a beta release, meaning it’s still a work in progress.
Flash 10.2 features better speed improvements on newer phones and tablets running dual core processors, including the Xoom, Motorola Atrix, and LG Optimus 2X. It will also be able to take advantage of graphics accelerated rendering of Flash videos, games, and other content. The updated Flash also brings exclusive features to Android 3.0, including hardware acceleration for high-definition videos (which will reduce CPU stress), and deeper integration with Android’s web browser rendering engine — which will speed up web page scrolling and will allow Flash content to run right in the browser.
Adobe has also included improved software keyboard support, which will let developers better optimize Flash applications that require keyboard inputs for mobile touchscreen interfaces.
Adobe didn’t say when Flash 10.2 would land on other mobile platforms, most of which are still waiting for Flash 10.1 appear. The company previously said that Flash will be available on BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7, WebOS, and Symbian platforms, but thus far it has only managed to deliver a beta release for WebOS.
As Adobe continues to improve its support for Flash on mobile devices, and as mobile hardware steadily improves, Apple’s arguments against including Flash in the iPhone and iPad — mainly, that it’s a battery and performance hog — are beginning to seem increasingly trivial. It may not happen this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple ends up embracing some form of Flash in the future.