The increasingly sour relationship between Apple and Google has hit new heights today with the news Google is to make Flash support a fundamental part of its products.
"Adobe Flash Player is the most widely used web browser plug-in," said Google Chrome engineering VP Linus Upson in an official blog post. "It enables a wide range of applications and content on the Internet, from games, to video, to enterprise apps... As a first step, we’ve begun collaborating with Adobe to improve the Flash Player experience in Google Chrome. Today, we’re making available an initial integration of Flash Player with Chrome in the developer channel. We plan to bring this functionality to all Chrome users as quickly as we can."
The key benefits of the move are that 1. Users will no longer need to worry about downloading Flash as a separate update, 2. Flash then will automatically update with Chrome, 3. Google can extend its sandbox protection to include Flash content - important given the number of productivity sites which use Flash.
Of course these are all commendable benefits, but given Apple famously insists Flash will die out with the rise of HTML5 - a simplistic view that could take years to occur, if ever - it does also smack of na-nah-na-na-nah. Given that Chrome OS is essentially Chrome, this also means Flash support will be native to Google's impending Cloud-based platform which is seen as a primary challenger to iPhone OS in the tablet sector.
Clearly then the gloves are off between the two, but what can Apple do in retaliation? Reports that it could launch a search engine seem wildly fanciful and can it really afford to pull Google Maps and YouTube support from the iPhone, iPod touch and impending iPad?
In related Googely news the company has announced OAuth access to IMAP/SMTP in Gmail, potentially opening the door for the widespread development of third party Gmail add-ons. OAuth - as widely used in Twitter - allows users to share access to their accounts with third parties without revealing their password or divulging private content. SmartPush (pictured) is one of the first apps to already take advantage of this, and expect a wave of content to soon follow.