Defending The Flash Player

I am an avid follower of tech news. It seems that as of late, the Adobe Flash Player has been taking a lot of hits in the tech press. I’m now writing to defend it.

Criticism of Flash reached a head last week when Apple announced their new iPad. As everyone knows, the iPhone OS does not support the Flash Player. Apple’s lack of support for Flash on their mobile devices is quite deliberate. The general consensus is that Apple hates Flash and wants to use the iPhone and iPad as weapons to try to kill it. This irks me.

The exclusion of Flash on the iPhone and iPod Touch is understandable, but I believe that the lack of Flash support on the iPad is a huge mistake. I don’t want to buy the iPad, but if I were interested, the lack of Flash would be a deal breaker for me. Far too many websites rely on the richness that Flash provides. Sure, YouTube videos play on the iPhone and iPad via H.264 video support in a dedicated app. However, web video isn’t the only area where Flash is popular.

Websites for musicians and restaurants are two areas where web designers lean heavily on Flash. One can complain about that fact all they want, but it is a reality. I personally have no problem with it whatsoever.

In addition, most all of the web-based games on the Internet are played within the Flash Player. Think of the gaming destinations Pogo, Kongregate, Farmville, etc. People enjoy playing these games. To simply not include them in a product that is designed to browse the web is totally unacceptable.

Flash has been a standard on the web for a very long time. More than a decade ago, it brought static web pages to life with animation, sound, and interactivity. I’m tired of hearing the growing calls for the format to be abandoned.

The anti-Flash camp contends that the Flash Player is a slow, buggy resource hog, often hitting 100% CPU usage and crashing web browsers. I have never noticed this on any of my computers. I can stream Flash video and multitask on my aging machine without issue. In fact, I have a decade old IBM Thinkpad that sports a Pentium-III processor with 512 MB of memory. That Thinkpad plays Flash perfectly fine, without struggle, overheating, or 100% CPU usage. When you consider that modern computers have dual and quad-core processors, what difference does it make if Flash is heavy on system resources?

To conclude, I have no problem with the Flash Player. I’ve never noticed it slowing down my computer or crashing my web browser, even once. In my opinion, Macromedia and Adobe have historically done a pretty good job at maintaining the Flash Player across all platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris. It is ubiquitous, and it just plain works. So I say this to everyone who is bitching and moaning about the Flash Player: Get over it. If you don’t like it, uninstall it. See how great your web experience is after you do that.

My Take On The Apple iPad

On January 27th, Apple announced the iPad. I watched in amusement the flood of hype and rumors that led up to this announcement. As a Mac user, I’m always interested when Apple announces a new product. I just have no interest in owning a tablet computer, or an e-book reader. I wasn’t going to buy one regardless of what Apple unveiled two days ago, but I enjoyed following the coverage.

The problem I have is that this isn’t a tablet computer. It is basically a giant iPod Touch. I already own an iPod Touch, and I don’t need a larger one. The iPad runs the iPhone OS. I want to see a tablet that runs full-blown Mac OS X and is a fully functional computer, complete with USB ports. I thought an Apple tablet would have Mac OS X at its core. After all, Apple invested a lot of time in writing Snow Leopard (10.6) to use less space and system resources. I figured all of that work would have coincided with developing a product like the iPad.

The iPhone OS, as it exists in version 3.x, does not allow multitasking (beyond the iPod feature and push notifications). That seems very limiting on such a large and capable device as the iPad. In addition, there is no Adobe Flash for the iPhone OS. Steve Jobs said that the iPad delivers the “best” web experience. How can that be true if it doesn’t have Flash? What about all of the Flash-heavy websites out there, not to mention all of the fun Flash games on the web? Also, the majority of online video streaming today requires the Flash Player. The only videos you’ll end up watching on the iPad are those you rip into iTunes yourself, YouTube videos, and those you rent or purchase from the iTunes Store. Of course, I am aware that the future HTML5 is going to eventually provide video streaming without Flash, but that isn’t quite reality as it exists today.

As for the rest, I can say that the iPad looks pretty. I do think there is too much bezel around the frame, however. I’d like to see the screen reach all the way to the edge. This device would be great for college textbooks. Little was said about that during the product announcement, however. The iPad should have a camera for video conferencing, and the lack of one is a little puzzling. I imagine that the next version of the device will add a camera. I’m also surprised that we didn’t see a 128 GB version of the iPad.

On another note, I was also disappointed that while doing their iPad product announcement, Apple did not announce the rumored multiple carrier support for the iPhone, or any mention iPhone OS 4.0.

It will be interesting to see all of the apps that will be developed for the iPad. I believe the product will be a success for Apple, but it falls short of a game-changing announcement, in my opinion.

Apple iPad