Adobe Flash, it's a name synonymous with slowing the Internet to a grinding halt (Yes. We know. We know). Still, could things be on the up? Today the company has announced public betas of Flash 10.1 and AIR 2.0 and, despite their version numbers, it is 10.1 which really holds our interest.
The big news is Flash 10.1 brings GPU acceleration which means your system will get extra assistance when playing (the vast majority) of streaming videos online. This couldn't come at a better time with Full HD YouTube videos launching this week and will help radically improve performance while reducing CPU strain. Good things!
At this stage nVidia cards should work best (notably ION) since it worked directly with Adobe, though ATI Radeon 3xxx and Radeon/Mobile Radeon 4xxx, Intel 4 series chipsets and Broadcom Crystal HD models should also be fine. GMA500 and GMA950 integrated graphics are off the list though since they're too weedy to do much to help the processor anyway, sorry (most) netbook owners.
As for AIR, this has hit headlines most notably by being the backbone of Twitter clients like twhirl and TweetDeck and v2.0 brings multi-touch and accelerometer support, USB storage device detection and claims of significant performance increases. Developers will also benefit from a new API, local microphone access, improved socket support and a faster, more powerful Webkit with HTML5 support.
Happily these are just the start too since a mobile version of Flash 10.1 for smartphones is due in early 2010 which should finally open up the last remaining barrier to true handset Internet (except for iPhones thanks to squabbling).
Time for you to take the afternoon off and go try out some High Def YouTube videos... extensively.
Flash Player 10.1 Release Notes (PDF warning)