Google promises full Flash support in Android 2.2

The chief engineer behind Google's mobile OS says it is happy to support Flash, and says the open source approach will eventually triumph over 'closed' systems like Apple's.

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Google has confirmed that the next version of its Android mobile operating system will feature full support for Adobe's Flash Player.

In an interview with the New York Times, Google's vice president of engineering Andy Rubin said Android 2.2, codenamed Froyo, will be released with Flash support, though he didn't specify whether Android-powered handsets would have Flash pre-installed.

Google and Adobe have found common ground recently thanks to a series of public disagreements with fellow technology giant Apple, with the former increasingly targeting Apple in the mobile space and the latter at odds with Apple's refusal to support Flash or any apps based on Flash on the iPhone.

Much of the fuss has stemmed from seemingly offhand comments made by Apple boss Steve Jobs at various points, and Rubin was happy to return the favour in the New York Times interview as he talked openly about Apple's approach to doing business.

He argued that not providing Flash support in Android would contradict the very definition of Android being open source, regardless of what Flash was being used for, saying that sometimes being open "means not being militant about the things consumer are actually enjoying".

Rubin said Android's growth was vindication of Google's open approach and willingness to work flexibly with different manufacturers and platforms, and predicted it was inevitable that Android would overtake proprietary systems such as Apple's.

"It's a numbers game," he said. "When you have multiple OEM's building multiple products in multiple product categories, it's just a matter of time. I don't know when it might be, but I'm confident it will happen. Open usually wins."

Apple's reservations about Flash centre on accusations that it is both unreliable and a system resource hog on Mac computers. However, Adobe is set to launch Flash Player 10.1 later in the year for both computers and smartphones, claiming it will be more reliable and have a smaller footprint than previous versions.

Apple has focused its attentions on HTML 5 instead, and made it an integral part of its iPhone OS 4.0 operating system. In doing so it has also tried to convince content providers to recode their sites into HTML 5, including CNN, Reuters and the New York Times itself.

Speaking about the device at the centre of the Apple vs Adobe dispute the iPad Rubin said he didn't think tablets would create an entirely new market but would instead siphon off laptop sales among users more focused on consuming information and media than productivity.

"I don't think people want to charge another device," he said.

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