Apple vs. Adobe – And the Winner is… Google!

Apple has given many answers as to their lack of flash support on the iPhone. From battery life reduction to buggy implementation to the evil nature of web plugins to the HTML5/Open-Source stance, we have heard about every possible reason out of Cupertino; including a death sentence to Adobe Flash-to-iPhone Compiler in the CS5 suite.
In return, Adobe has long stated their position on openness, willingness to meet standards, battery reduction refutations, partnership with other mobile OS makers should a deal with Apple fail. Last attention grabber on Adobe’s part was this pseudo-viral marketing campaign about love and Apple.

The more we bore witness to this ever-evil fight the more we lost focus on Google and the brews that were coming to maturity inside their busy labs.

In a most shock-and-awe fashion, the world received last week an open-sourced gift from Google. A gift most of us would not know what to do with, but a gift all of us will eventually benefit from. I am talking about Native Client.

How can this resolve the Apple vs. Adobe issue, you ask?
Native Client’s premise is that native code would run on any browser that is compatible with native client on any OS.

How it does this translate into our world? In theory, any web tool such as the flash player or Unity Web Player could potentially run on a Native Client compatible browser without the need for any plugin. Unity showed us the way by demoing Lego Star Wars running on the chrome browser in Linux, plugin-free.

Google offered us a first-class look at the future of the web, a plugin-less future; a future where the line between browser and native applications is blurred to the point where the browser becomes a virtual OS that can run code on any platform, regardless of their desktop OS.

While Adobe fights for the life of its plugin and Apple fights for the death of Flash, Google demonstrated a true act of peace-making. In this very instance, Google’s fight seems to be focused on a better web.

Due to the open-source nature of its technology, native client will certainly make its way into all major browsers. There is no doubt about that. Adobe has the best opportunity of all to get out of Steve Jobs’ deadlock by integrating the native client API into their flash technology.

Apple, via pressure, will reluctantly have to integrate Native Client into Safari, short of rendering their web browser obsolete.

The next question is: How long will Apple be able to keep Native Client out of Safari mobile? It seems to me that Section 3.3.1 of the iPhone OS 4.0 ToS is dead before it is even born.


Unity Rocks Google I/O

Unity has unveiled yesterday at the Google I/O 2010 an impressive demo. Using Google’s Native Client – a new Google sponsored open-source technology aimed at running native code on the web browser, the Unity team managed to run the Lego Star Wars game on Google Chrome without the need to install any plugin.

While this is great news in itself, it is only a shadow of the real benefits pursuing such a technology would bring.
As stated on the project’s homepage, one of the main objectives of Native Client is OS portability. You hear that right:
Unity games are coming to Linux!

I was able to confirm this with the Unity developers. Here’s proof.

The future is bright for Unity, who thanks to native client, may end up maintaining a unique web player codebase while maximizing OS portability. Google might just have been able to justify the existence of a Unity Player for Linux, since the added cost of maintaining a Linux Web Player (or any additional OS) would be virtually inexistent.

Of course, both native client and the plugin-less Unity Web Player are very experimental, and will have to overcome quite a few obstacles (such as support for native client on IE, Firefox, Safari, Opera) before they can reach consumers’ hands. But if nothing else, we should applaud both Google and Unity for their ambitious objectives and stellar accomplishments.