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Don't look for Adobe Flash on Apple's iPads, iPhones soon

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, September 5, 2010; G03

I was traveling last week to cover Apple's iPod and Apple TV event Wednesday (and writing an extra column based on that). So this week, I offer questions taken from Friday's Web chat.

The iPad's future Concerning the iPad, will the projected update in OS include Flash (or deal with it's lack of)? Will Apple ever make a camera/mic attachment that makes it Skype friendly?

No. I won't say you'll never see Flash on the iPad or the iPhone. It would be a Nixon-goes-to-China moment for Steve Jobs to take back all the nasty things he's said about Adobe's product.

But the odds are excellent that you'll see a front-facing webcam on the iPad. Apple spent too much time Wednesday talking up the appeal of FaceTime videoconferencing on the iPod Touch for it not to add that to all its iOS mobile devices.

Sony or Kindle? Sony increased it's cheapest price to $179 but made it touch screen; Kindle dropped its price to $139. Countless free books at www.archive.org. Which is a better value for basic reading, the Sony or the Kindle, or would you wait until either pre- or post-holiday price drops?

The Kindle hardware looks pretty old and is due for a replacement with a touch screen (see this New York Times piece from Wednesday). But I'm unsure about the prospects of any current e-readers; if they 're not going to get wiped off the map by tablets like the iPad, they're going to need to get cheaper still but also acquire screens that can display color as well as black-and-white.

Android loaded down? I have read a lot about the openness of Android, and to counter that, Android haters have pointed out that the service providers have loaded the devices down with their self-serving applications. What is your opinion on this, and how difficult are these applications to remove, esp. on Verizon? How does the openness of a Verizon device compare to the iPhone and iPhone unlocked?

We're talking about two kinds of openness:

1) The ability of developers to ship the software they want for a phone, and;

2) The ability of users to customize the phone as they wish, by adding and removing applications.

Android is far more open on the first point. On the second, Android phones have a problem that the iPhone does not -- Apple doesn't let AT&T bundle any junk apps on the device, while all the carriers are at liberty to exercise their bad taste with Android phones. It's true that you can't remove some core iPhone apps. But nobody is going to argue that, say, Sprint's NASCAR app is anywhere as essential as the Mail app on an iPhone.

If you want to compare jailbroken iPhones, though, you also need to factor in Android units that have been "rooted" and updated with home-brewed variants of Android like CyanogenMod.

Ping Let me preface my critical remarks about the Ping social-networking option in iTunes by saying that I'm a pretty devoted Apple fanboy. But I note that when I tried to download something from the iTunes store (app updates), the store required me to fill out a Ping profile and automatically turned it on. I had to go turn it off. That's irritating. And I, like you, got some "recommendations," even before I connected with anyone, that don't exactly jibe with my musical tastes. I've been skeptical of the "Genius" feature in the past, and Ping seems like another, more advanced but possibly also more insidious way of (paid) music promotion. I don't know how useful it would be for me even if it works as advertised, but if it's just a way to try to convince me to like Ke$ha, that stinks.

Yeah, I'm a bit skeptical of Ping, too. The recommendations and follow suggestions look as randomly chosen as ever. I'm also unsure that I need yet another social network to tend -- another profile picture to choose, another friends list to assemble, another set of friend requests from people I don't know to ignore, another batch of privacy settings to guard. I may be out of personal bandwidth on that front.

Apple news I am concerned though about what might be happening with the iPod. I have a vast music collection and no interest on watching movies or TV shows on a tiny handheld device. The Classic iPod is the one for me, yet it got no overhaul and I'm hearing rumors it might go away. That would be a real shame for someone like me. Probably enough that I would start looking for another brand to be loyal too, as the Touch just wouldn't cut it.

My thinking with the iPod Classic is that Apple has reached a rare state of stasis -- it's got a design that works and a satisfied customer base, so it's not putting any more work into it. It doesn't need to, as long as it can keep buying hard drives in the right size.

At some point -- maybe next year, maybe the year after that -- flash memory will become too cheap not to use as a replacement for the Classic's hard drive, and that's when Apple will have to decide if it keeps the highest-capacity iPod a music-first device like the current Classic (think of a Nano with far more storage), or if it allows the Touch to replace the Classic entirely.

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