The battle behind the screens – Flash vs. Silverlight

It’s definitely a war–it’s just that it’s a Cold War.

Since Microsoft released Silverlight, (and by the way, watch what happens when you surf over there) their answer to Adobe Flash, in 2007, there’s been a (sort of) silent war going on behind the two software giants about who gets to play your movies.

When you go to a site like Youtube or Hulu to watch videos (and who among us does not, these days?), isn’t it awesome how fast it is? How clear? How the videos you watch don’t take up space on your hard disk or really even slow down what you’re doing in the background? That’s because when you go to those sites (and soon others like Vimeo and possibly Dailymotion), your browser loads a plugin to let you read the Flash Video that someone has posted and that the website has slightly reconfigured–and plays it right from the source, like you’re looking through your computer to where the video really is, somewhere else. This means that anyone, anywhere can see it, which is good news for video producers and marketers alike. Just as Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux can all (usually) read the same types of files, now we can all see almost any type of video–the trouble is that not everyone feels like they’re making enough money this way.

Any guesses who? (*coughSilverlightcough*)

Well, you’re mostly right, but it isn’t JUST Microsoft. There are plenty of people out to get Flash, now that it’s the standard for video playback on the web: Sun Microsystems (who makes Java), plenty of open-source proponents, and Apple have either resisted or worked around integrating Flash into their video products (iPhone, anyone?) but more than ever, Adobe is realizing that if they want their product to stay at the top, they’re going to have to get into some heretofore unexplored venues. To that end, the rumors are flying about new tools for developing iPhone apps using Flash, putative Flash support on the theoretical Apple Tablet (if it exists, right?), and more.

Microsoft is responding to this by leveraging their power toward pushing Flash out of certain areas; ever notice that the streaming function of Netflix is run on Silverlight instead of Flash?

So here’s the question: both Flash and Silverlight are proprietary software, and both are the big boys when it comes to video playback on the web–now whom would we prefer as the keeper of our vids? Because someones’s going to win this battle–and either way, it’s going to mean a lot about how we get (and what we can do with) our video.

What do you get for the phone who has everything?

iphone, rumors, questions, next

What to do next with the coolest phone Ever?

So ok–it’s going to be a while until we get Flash for the iPhone, but I think we can all agree that it’s still pretty cool. The question is: now that you can do almost everything on the iPhone, like getting GPS Driving directions, reading e-books with the Kindle App, checking your email, stock quotes, and weather forecasts, and watching movies…what’s next for this niftiest of devices? I know! NEW APPS for it!

When the iPhone came out in 2007, most users were impressed and pleased with the number of cool applications you could get for it; in fact it’s this that makes the iPhone more of a palmtop computer than strictly a phone–you can load new software and get upgrades just like you can with your laptop or desktop. That said, the idea of WRITING software for the iPhone was, and still is for many, a black box. What’s involved in writing an app for the iPhone? Do you have to learn a new language? Does it mean you have to HAVE a Mac computer…or even own an iPhone?

With the meteoric takeoff of Apple’s App Store, it’s become clear even to the comparative luddite that someone is creating all these apps, and with the iPhone gaining (still!) in popularity, it seems likely that more and more people will learn how–but how?

Well, as far as that goes, there are a couple of ways to get going, but the best we can think of is a class on iPhone Application Development – how to use Objective-C, how to upload and test the apps, and how to get the most out of what you create.

Since the much-touted PastryKit is only a theory at this point, and since it’s gotten even easier to market new Apps with all the upgrades to the App Store, we think now is a fantastic time to start learning to program for what is STILL the coolest phone out there…and what can only be made cooler by a new app…by You!

Apple Tablet Finally Here? What does that mean for Adobe?

- by Jori Curry

While Apple continues to remain quiet on the iTab, industry insiders say a 2010 release date is imminent.

With the massive popularity of the Amazon Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble NookApple is in a prime spot to take advantage of the wave of users flocking to the new tablet technology. With McDonalds joining Panera and Starbucks in offering free wireless, the iTab is poised to sell 10 million in the first year, according to Lee Kai-fu, a previous president of Google in China. Though the Kindle is a nifty device, the ability to utilize iPhone Apps, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and other Creative Suite apps will make it far more powerful than the popular E-reader. Where we are limited in the use of Flash on the iPhone, the iTab only should not only allow users to view flash, but to create Adobe Flash applications while enjoying a Big Mac at McDonalds–all without having to lug a laptop around.

Unlike the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iTab may utilize a new electronic pen. With the recent patent filed by Apple, it appears the new pen would even take advantage of an “Ink Manager” to communicate with applications that may not be designed to work with an electronic pen.

The patent document reads: “Even systems that attempt to improve this situation by using each stroke to determine the input field anew, such as the Apple Newton from Apple Computer Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., can suffer from failure modes that make the situation difficult for both end users and for application developers,” the document reads. “For example, a word that accidentally spans two input fields even a tiny amount (due, for instance, to a stray ascender, descender, crossbar, or dot) may be broken up into multiple sessions, causing misrecognition and invalid data entries that must be manually corrected.”

Apple Insider has also elaborated on the delay of the iTab. They report that Nick Bilton of the New York Times has said one of the biggest reasons for delay was the lack of software for this kind of touchscreen platform. Now that the App store offerers a plethora of software, the iTab can only be around the corner.

Macquarie analyst Phil Cusick was quoted estimating the iTab will cost approximately $800 and sell 3-5 million tablets in the first year.

Pay-Per-iView…Apple to get into the digital TV biz?

In November, it was leaked that Apple may be getting into bed with a few of TV’s major networks to begin offering a paid, subscription-based package of digital content using Apple TV. Apparently, for a tithe of about $30, subscribers will get to watch whatever they want using Apple’s existing network of streaming and downloadable content through iTunes. The latest seems to be that no major networks have agreed so far, but the larger question is: can Apple really compete with the likes of Comcast, AT&T, and DirectTV?

Not many people got really excited about the Apple TV when it came out; for sure, not enough people bought it for it to come down in price along with the rest of Apple’s line. Among the issues it carried in the door were enormous updates to install right out of the box, incompatibilities with various TV sets, and wildly variable streaming speeds. Nevertheless, their sales since then increased exponentially, and now it’s not that hard to conceive of a widely-used, Apple-based system for watching TV the way we already do. We’ll be watching to see which, if any, of the big networks sign on to become part of the new Apple TV Paid subscription system–and who signs up.

ModBook: Solution to an Apple Touch Screen for Better use with Adobe Applications

One of the most exciting things to come out of MacWorld is the Axiotron ModBook. It’s essentially a MacBook that has been given tablet capabilities, allowing users to write directly on the screen. A conjunctive effort between Axiotron, Wacom and Apple, this tablet solution brings GPS, iSight, Bluetooth connectivity,  a ForeGlass screen for better viewing outside. The ModBook is just a tad thicker than the MacBook, and weighs 5.3 pounds, and has a 15.3” screen. The Modbook Pro uses “revolutionary new Synergy Touch technology” that allows you to use both the pen and a finger at the same time. The starting price isn’t cheap–$4,998. Although current MacPro owners can convert an existing laptop for $3,000.

Many Mac users are still waiting for the actual Mac touch-screen. Apple applied for a patent last August revealing that they may be working on their own Mac tablet. While tablet PC’s haven’t been in industry blockbuster, one hopes that on the heels of the iPhone and iPod Touch that this is the right climate for a Mac touch-screen iMac.

- Jori Curry