April 01, 2010, 12:49 PM — Adobe's new partnership with Google will keep Internet users safer because Chrome will automatically update Flash Player without asking users, an Adobe director of engineering said.
On Tuesday, the two companies announced that Google would include Adobe's Flash Player in downloads of Chrome starting with the rough-around-the-edges builds of the browser's "dev" channel. Google will also employ Chrome's auto-updater to push Flash fixes to users without notifying them or asking them to approve the download.
The integration, particularly the automatic updating of Adobe's plug-in, is a first for a browser maker.
"If you want to have a safe experience, updates should just happen in the background," said Paul Betlem, senior director of Flash Player engineering.
Unlike other browsers, Chrome updates itself automatically in the background without asking for permission or prompting users that security fixes or new features are available. The practice, which Google debuted alongside Chrome in September 2008 , riled some users initially, but the criticism soon faded.
Other browsers, however, did not follow suit.
"Google uses a unique approach," Betlem said. "They don't ask users [for permission to update], they just do it. If you can appreciate that model, then it gives users a more secure experience. And Google recognizes that plug-ins are a part of that experience, and that they should be updated the same way."
Adobe will build customized binaries of Flash Player for Google to include with Chrome downloads; the browser will install the plug-ins as part of its own installation process. Adobe will also hand binaries of Flash updates -- both major upgrades and the more frequent security updates to patch vulnerabilities -- to Google, which will feed them into its update mechanism.
"It's another way of distributing updates," said Betlem, in addition to current methods that range from users manually downloading updates to Flash Player's built-in update notification. The latter is available only on Windows, however. Mac OS X users, for example, must either manually download and install an update or wait for Apple to update the operating system.