Oh Flash where art thou?

Flash support was one of those items nobody even mentioned until it was painfully absent during Steve’s demo.  I can’t say I read a thread anywhere I frequent where someone was bemoaning the possible lack of Flash support on the upcoming tablet from Apple.

Did anyone REALLY think they were going to roll it out on the iPad and not the iPhone?  I for one do not believe it has anything to do with the hardware (well aside from battery life, which it would suck like a Hoover).

I suspect that Flash has already been tested on the iPhone and they decided it wouldn’t offer a consistent experience with normal web content. If Flash sucked to use on a touch-screen everyone will blame Apple saying their implementation sucks. But really Flash devs would have to go back and rethink their UIs if they were designing for a phone instead of a computer to make it work right.

Think about how you can double-tap to focus on HTML content. How would the iPhone know that an area within a Flash site was a region that could/should be zoomable? I think people are over-simplifying how difficult it would be to make this a good experience on the iPhone. Flash is great for a lot of reasons, one of those isn’t because it works well on small-screen touch devices.

Face it, there isn’t a compelling reason to use Flash on a mobile device like iPhone/iPad. Developers need to produce websites that degrade if Flash isn’t installed, simple as that. This decision isn’t because Apple hates Adobe but rather that Flash just isn’t a good fit for every device.

So you might argue that Flash should be optional, and I would tend to agree.  But here is the reality…

– battery life would suck, and suck hard.  Flash is very CPU intensive, expect your battery life to be non-existent.  people would immediately bust out the pitch forks and torches and head to Cupertino.

– the experience would suck worse than the battery life.  no offense to the Flash devs out there, but did you build your application to work on a touch screen?  no?  yeah that’s what I thought.

I think people will complain there is no Flash for a while.  But eventually as the iPhone OS and other mobile platforms gain momentum Flash content is going to become optional, as it always should have been.  Whether the absence of Flash is right or wrong in your mind developers need to start thinking about alternate content for folks without Flash.

1 comment

  1. Well put bro! I have been using Flash for years mainly as an animation tool. The shift from it being a design -based animation tool to a development platform annoys me to no end. I despise that it has gotten harder, not easier to add in simple interactions. These complaints have nothing to do really with iphone, ipad implementation but I for one, am waiting for Flash to ride of into the sunset.

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