Reports of Flash Player’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, much to the chagrin of Steve Jobs. Yesterday, on its blog rather than a news release, Adobe announced the release of Flash Player 10.2, which many see as a breakthrough release for the company that is historically better known for its Photoshop suite than the browser plugin it inherited from its acquisition of Macromedia.
This release of Flash finally introduces a workable hardware accelerated video pipeline, one that reportedly works across “platforms and browsers”. This means that Windows, Mac, and Linux users will be able to enjoy smooth video playback without hearing their processors whimper and sniffle.
Other new features include custom native mouse cursors, multiple monitor full-screen support, Internet Explorer 9 hardware accelerated rendering, and enhanced sub-pixel rendering, the last of which should make text in Flash more readable.
Flash has come under a lot of heat lately, particularly from Apple, which refuses to use it on its iPhone or iPad, favoring HTML5 instead. Moreover, Linux users would prefer not to use the proprietary plugin, and pretty much all users know it requires far more CPU power (and battery life on mobile devices) than it should. According to Adobe, Flash 10.2 fixes at least the last of those concerns with Stage Video.
Stage Video is a new API that allows websites to stream hardware accelerated video over multiple browsers, while reducing processor usage by up to 85 percent. It also introduces DVR-like playback control, adaptive bitrate management, and content protection. This means that even a netbook can stream 1080p HD video from a Flash-powered website and not literally feel the heat. Website owners can take advantage of the new technology simply by updating their video player’s SWF. YouTube , Vimeo, and others will soon add support for it.
The new version of Flash is available now from the Adobe website for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2008, and 2003, Mac OS X 10.4 – 10.6, various Linux distributions, and Solaris.