Apple's new iPad is pretty cool. After all, what's not to love about a giant iPod touch that will make watching movies, reading books and newspapers, and browsing the web a much more compelling experience?
But considering that the iPad must be considered first and foremost an entertainment device, there are a few holes. Like the iPhone, the iPad will not have support for Adobe Flash, the technology that drives YouTube and most other web videos. On top of that, Netflix has announced that its streaming video service, Watch Instantly, will not support the iPad in the foreseeable future.
Adobe urged developers to convert Flash-based apps to iPad-compliant versions through its new Packager for iPhone tool. The conversion will allow apps to run just fine on the iPhone and iPod touch, but they still won't be able to take advantage of the iPad's larger 1024x768 screen resolution. Apple's other mobile devices have 480x320 screen resolution.
No Flash Could Be an Issue for IPad
While the tool won't immediately support the larger screen size, "it is our intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad," Adobe's Michael Chou said on a company blog.
Converting Flash apps for use on the iPhone or iPad is a start, but the absence of native support for Flash continues to be a hole in Apple's version of mobile web browsing, especially considering the iPad is touted as the most satisfying way to surf the web on the go. This was embarrassingly obvious in CEO Steve Job's demonstration of the iPad browsing The New York Times. The Times site features Flash-based videos, which Jobs was unable to play.
"Not having Flash is an issue, given the fact that about 70 percent of web games and video support Flash," Tim Bajarin, principal strategist for Creative Strategies, said in an e-mail. "Apple did not put Flash Lite on the iPhone and instead used their own media player to play back content. It could be a bigger issue on the iPad, though, since Apple is pushing a full Internet experience."
"Apple appears to plan not to support Flash, but instead opt for strong support for HTML5, which has many of Flash's features," Bajarin explained, "but hopefully Adobe will create a work-around for this at some point, if possible."
Netflix on iPad: 'Not a Priority'
Adobe has been working with developers to make several apps iPhone/iPad-ready in advance of the tool's release, including the popular Gold Strike game and Brush, an app for the sort of thing long considered a computer-free activity -- brushing your teeth. The app is said to help you brush for a full three minutes.
Netflix CEO Reed Hasting also said the leader in mail-order and streaming DVD rentals has no immediate plans to enable on-demand video for the iPad. "It's not a huge priority for us because we're so focused on the larger screens," Hastings said in a quarterly conference call with analysts. "Until we get our TV ubiquity and our Blu-ray ubiquity and we're getting close on video-game ubiquity, then we would next turn to the small screen. So it's something we will get around to, but it's not in the near term."
Netflix promotes devices from Roku and others that allow its Watch Instantly content to be streamed to television sets. Netflix uses Microsoft's IIS Media Services to serve its streaming movies on both Macs and PCs running the Silverlight plug-in. In November, Microsoft announced the ability for IIS7 to transcode to an iPhone-compatible stream via Mobile Safari. So technically, it's possible for Netflix to support streaming to the iPad, but clearly Hastings is not rushing in.