Why Flash On Mac Is About To Get Much Less Terrible

Illustration for article titled Why Flash On Mac Is About To Get Much Less Terrible

Running Flash on Mac OS is, in a word, miserable. It's slow, resource-sucking and crashy, compared to Windows. Which is why Apple's new video acceleration API—which Adobe plans to use in upcoming versions of Flash—is great news.

It all started with this dense little block of words, posted on Apple's Mac OS reference library:

The Video Decode Acceleration framework is a C programming interface providing low-level access to the H.264 decoding capabilities of compatible GPUs such as the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M, GeForce 320M or GeForce GT 330M. It is intended for use by advanced developers who specifically need hardware accelerated decode of video frames.


What This Means: Other companies, besides Apple, could leverage the power of your computer's graphics card to decode video. Graphics-card-accelerated video playback is smoother, and more importantly, less resource intensive. And up until now, it was precisely this lack of access to low-level APIs that Adobe had held up as a reason that their Windows version of Flash was accelerated and smooth and lovely and all, while their Mac OS version was, in multiple senses of the word, jerky.

So, is this new opening applicable to Flash, a web plugin that Apple has more or less declared to be a Horrible Thing. When asked by Ars Technica if they'd be able to use the API, Adobe said hell yes:

We will be enabling support for hardware accelerated video decoding for Flash Player on Mac. Now that the required APIs are available, we are working on an additional Flash Player release to follow shortly after Flash Player 10.1 to include this functionality for the hardware configurations supported by the new APIs.

Translation: Flash video on Mac might actually be pleasant to watch on Mac, someday. Soon, even!

And hey, it's nice to see Adobe and Apple finally acting like adults about this, if only through the back channels. [Ars Technica]


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Is Flash really THAT bad on Macs?

I have a friend who is a professional graphic design artists and he does most of his work with Flash on a Mac. Furthermore, he watches a lot of Flash on his computer, both when he is testing what he did and just from browsing other graphic design artists' websites.

I asked him if he had any problems (he has a Mac Book Pro), and he said he can't remember the last time Flash crashed. Furthermore, this kid isn't an Apple fan boy, so I know he isn't just making stuff up. He said his next laptop is definitely going to be a Think Pad.