A spot of news from last week that I never quite had time to cover, Adobe last Monday announced that LG and TiVo partnered with them to bring Adobe Flash based applications to their platforms via Adobe Air. Over 100 digital home devices already use Air and Flash, including Samsung Smart TVs. So these announcements will expand the ecosystem. A little selection from the press release:
“We are excited to be the first TV maker to support Adobe AIR on our Smart TVs bringing rich, Flash-based applications to millions of customers today,” said Kyungsik Kevin Lee, vice president, Visual Display Business, Samsung Electronics. “With the dramatic advancements in AIR 3, Adobe continues to push the envelope with innovative new features that will enable powerful 3D gaming apps and other next generation app experiences on televisions soon.”
“LG is working closely with Adobe to bring Flash-based applications with AIR to LG Smart TVs in 2012,” said Youngjae Seo, vice president, Smart TV Team, LG. “We can’t wait to see what kind of application experiences three million Flash developers will bring to our customers with AIR 3.”
“The availability of AIR will give us the tools to deliver better functionality, more features and a rich, seamless experience that our users expect from TiVo products,” said Jim Denney, vice president and general manager, Product Marketing, TiVo. “We look forward to the development of a rich ecosystem of multi-platform applications to make the TV experience even better.”
See the full release for more. I am, of course, most interested in how this will apply to TiVo. The TiVo Premiere is already using Flash for the HD UI and newer apps, like Hulu Plus. (Some of the older, legacy apps are still using the Java-based HME framework.) But the TiVo Premiere hardware supports Flash Lite, a reduced version of flash for lower powered embedded systems. Will this new announcement apply to the existing TiVo Premiere? Or might the new TiVo Premiere Elite and forthcoming TiVo Preview be using newer SoCs that would support the fuller Flash/Air experience? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping this means we’ll see new versions of the apps, and all new apps, across the Premiere lineup. Ideally I’d love to see TiVo open an app store for third party apps, and open up the platform to developers to explore.
And all of that aside, Flash on embedded platform is not the same beast. Devices like TiVo and the smart TVs use hardware with dedicated Flash support, not a software interpreter on a generic CPU like a PC. And the platforms are generally more limited in what they’ll support – only what the hardware can decode. So it is a much more focused environment. So Flash isn’t the root of all evil that I’ve seen many make it out to be. It is a logical choice as a platform with many advantages in an embedded environment. Embedded Flash support is much easier to come by these days than embedded ‘HTML5′ support, for example. Especially as HTML5 is still a moving target as the standards evolve.