Apple, Adobe, Flash, HTML5, audio, video

The whole feud between Apple and Adobe over Flash and HTML5 and development for mobile devices is like watching a couple you are friends with go though a break-up. It’s sad and you hope you won’t be asked to choose sides. This break-up has been long and drawn out. Yet I don’t see either  “winning” this fight. They both have tools that most designers are not going to do without. They are just making each other look bad. 

I love my Macs and could not do my job without Adobe Photoshop. So I’ll watch this very public argument and cringe a little. I hope some day these two companies find a way to be friendly again.

I have always thought using a third party plug-in (Flash, Real, Windows Media or QuickTime) for audio and video never made much sense. It creates a second layer of software that needs to be upgraded and maintained. On mobile devices that extra software tends to eat up CPU cycles, memory, and battery power. (Which is part of the reason Apple will not allow Flash on the iPhone, iTouch or iPad.) Shouldn’t the modern web browser be able to play the media?

HTML5 removes the need for a third party plug-in to play audio and video. As long as the video is encoded with the correct compression and is the right fomat, browers that support HTML5 can play the content. But to make things even more fun, there is a debate on which formats should be used in HTML5. For video should it be be MPEG-4 ASP, H.264 or Theora (Ogg) and for audio, MP3, AAC, or Vorbis? Each major browser supports different things. Here’s a chart : HTML5 browser support checkist: Embedded content (audio & video) You can encode for more than one format and use Video for Everybody but it is extra work. YouTube, Vimeo, Brightcove are using both Flash and H.264 to try to reach the most viewers on PC’s and mobile devices.

Where Flash does still have a edge is interactive graphics, and advertising. While you can do a lot a very cool things with jQuery, Flash is still is powerful for designing immersive multimedia experiences. The kind of multimedia that is better seen on a larger screen on a computer, not a mobile device. (The fight over ad formats is another issue, better left for another post.)

The fact is HTML5 is on it’s way with new ways to handle multimedia.We just are in a transition period. But until HTML5 is the standard, I’m going use the tools make the most sense for the project I’m working on and the intended viewer. And keep using Apple and Adobe products to create it.

Learn more:

Everything you need to know about HTML5 and why you should care about its war with Flash

The Future of Web Content – HTML5, Flash & Mobile Apps

Dive Into HTML5: Video

Video for Everybody

Native audio in the browser

jQuery: Open Standard Media (OSM) Player

Javascript driven HTML5 video

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