Can someone please explain Flash to me?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by marc55, Nov 15, 2011.

  1. marc55 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2011
    Trying to decide between an ipad2, Galaxy Tab 10.1, or a real light notebook, and just want to know what issues we would face not having Flash on the ipad2?

    Another question, must one use apps to really view websites? For example, must I use a bank's app, vs just going t their web site to do usual online banking?

    What other differences are there between a computer and tablet (other than business programs like Word, Eccel, Powerpoint, etc)?

    Thank you
  2. szolr macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2011
    London, UK
    Flash on a tablet like the Galaxy Tab is not like Flash on a computer. It'll let you watch videos in the .flv format. Your interaction with .swf files will still be awful. So how much web video do you watch? Anyway, most of YouTube's content is being converted to H.264 now, so I'd say Flash isn't' a big fall on the iPad side.

    You can use an app or the website-whichever you prefer, but app experiences are generally better designed and easier to navigate than websites (not always though by any means).

    Other differences? Mainly they'll be related to tablets tending to use ARM instead of Intel or AMD processors. So you'll be getting 1 GHz or so processors in tablets. In a laptop it'll be more like 2.0 GHz plus. And the Sandy bridge processors have Turbo boost, hyper threading (on quad core CPUs etc). So computers are a lot more powerful than tablets.
  3. qbricc macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2007
    You won't miss it until you need it!

    Not having flash on a device like an iPad makes sense and many websites are now designed without flash and other iPad friendly options are being used.

    Many sites will redirect you to a mobile version of the site or offer an app instead. There are however a number of sites which will not work at all on the iPad and many more that won't included certain content like videos.

    99 times out of a 100 I don't miss flash on my iPad, but some sites it is just easier to use a computer instead.

    In a few years I don't think this will be an issue at all, but for now you'll miss out on around 5-10% of the internet.

    Hope this helps.

    P.s. Everyone in our house loves the iPad (even without flash).
  4. ruvil macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2010
    Uhu. Nowadays i have never stumbled upon flash based sites and those who have it are mainly using it for ads - so i just see the no-flash as a built in adblocker.

    The main problem is of course some videos, but more and more sites are using HTML5 nowadays - there is no reason to be afraid of that. And since Adobe won't continue their mobile flash version any more(except for security patches etc) - even more sites will go html5 ):)
  5. BrennerM macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2010
    Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
    A lot of restaurants and hotels still use Flash on their sites. When I run across a site which uses Flash that I really need to see, I just fire up the Puffin browser app (I think it is $2 in the app store?) and it has always worked great for me. I haven't really tried any Flash games though, but there are thousands of native games in the App Store anyway, so I've never felt a need to run Flash games.

    Most mainstream video/news sites that used to have a lot of Flash have converted off of Flash or are using dual-mode sites to allow full iPad support.
  6. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    You have to answer this for yourself. What web sites do you frequent? Do they use Flash? Do they not have an alternative?

    Generally no. I think Pandora may be an exception unless you have a browser where you can set the user agent (how the browser on the device is identified to the web server) as desktop. Generally speaking, apps just offer an interface that's streamlined and optimized for the device. Typically an app doesn't preclude you from using the web site.

    Waaay to much to summarize in a thread like this. If you're asking that then you haven't even really started your research. Get out and take the options for a spin.
  7. boch82 macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2008
  8. porcupine8 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2011
    I rarely have a problem with no flash - there's only one site I go to that still uses flash video, and if I really want to see what they post I can find it on YouTube. Most sites like banks, utilities, Facebook, forums, etc I prefer using them in my browser to using their apps and have no problem, though there are a handful (Photobucket, craigslist, gas buddy) whose apps I prefer just because they're better designed.

    Major corporations have generally long since abandoned flash for the interactive stuff. The only time I run into that is little local businesses whose sites were designed five years ago and never updated.
  9. Signor S. macrumors member

    Aug 29, 2011
    1. iPad 2

    2. Most major banking companies (unless you have money in a smaller less known bank), will have some kind of mobile banking app. You certainly could do your banking through the website, but the whole point of the app is to make it work with your iDevice and not have to use their website.

    3. No filesystem.
  10. HobeSoundDarryl, Nov 16, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2011

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    OP, the best way to get a good answer to your Flash question is to visit all the sites you frequent and take notice of whether Flash is running there. If it is, can you live without that functionality when using the prospective iPad?

    I'd suggest getting one of the Flash blockers for whatever browser you use and see how your web browsing goes for a good period of time. When you encounter Flash features, the blocker will make it more obvious. Then, you can allow that Flash to run if you want to see exactly what you are missing. Do that for about 4-8 weeks (or just go through every website in your bookmarks) to simulate being without Flash if you go with the iPad. Then let that drive your decision.

    Asking this question on this site is asking a very biased audience (most are extraordinarily anti-Flash and extraordinarily pro-Apple (in any matter... even when Apple is wrong)). But odds are very high that none of us use the exact mix of websites that you use. For all we know, every website you frequent is a Flash site for which you choosing an iPad would probably be miserable (for you). Or maybe every site you use has no Flash at all for which the iPad might be perfect.
  11. pagansoul macrumors 65816


    Aug 10, 2006
    The one and only reason I miss Flash is because I can't watch my Amazon Prime movies on my iPad. Since this is the only reason for me to buy an Amazon Fire I don't think they will make an app for it.
  12. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Interestingly, it appears no one has answered the question raised by title of this thread.

    Simply put, Flash is a code that exists on both a website and an access device (with a browser) that enables a user to see animated content and to interact directly with that content.

    It's still used very widely on the web. (Adobe, the originator of Flash) claims about 85% of the most heavily viewed websites use Flash and there's no reason to doubt that. On the other hand, much of that content is advertising with animation and graphics designed to grab your attention. If you want to see just how much Flash content exists on websites you visit, add a "flash blocker" add-in to your browser on your computer and you'll recognize how much content, useful and otherwise, exists out there.

    Criticism of Flash comes from several sources. It's proprietary (controlled by Adobe) so other firms (e.g. Apple) have nothing to say about its development or features. Apple complaining about proprietary content might be seen as hypocritical (with good reason) but that's another topic.

    Flash is old code (introduced about 15 years ago) so it's often criticized as failing to take advantage of more modern languages, e.g. java. And most importantly, it places a heavy burden on client side devices that lack memory and processing power (e.g. phones, tablets, etc.)

    To get around that problem, many sites introduced "mobile" versions of their websites that provide alternatives to flash content. In some cases, however, that has meant that functionality is lost in "mobile" versions of websites. Adobe tried to keep Flash relevant by developing a de-featured version for use on these "mobile" websites but it was a stopgap and one that Apple, particularly, rejected for the Safari browser on the iPad and iPhone. Thus, it's not an ideal solution from any perspective but until fairly recently it has been the most used solution.

    The development of HTML5 (coupled with Java to provide animation) is widely seen as a way around the problems of proprietary control by Adobe, some of the many security issues from which Flash suffers, and the "bulkiness" and client side demands of Flash. It means that websites can eliminate multiple versions of their content depending on the device and support the growing number of "mobile" devices more easily.

    Adobe finally gave up on the "mobile" front last week, announcing that they won't continue to develop "mobile flash" and will accept the dominance of HTML5 as the basis for further development of their mobile products.

    Still another approach to the problems of Flash on mobile devices has been the development of mobile-specific "apps" that eliminate the use of a browser (and Flash), altogether. There are especially useful in cases where the security weaknesses of Flash may be problematic since less data are passed from a device to a server. On-line banking is a prime example. However, it's not a general solution since one would have to have hundreds of apps to provide the functionality of even a limited browser.

    In the next couple of years Flash will almost certainly disappear in favor of HTML5/Java as websites are updated. And since Flash is so common for advertising, the websites that use Flash are more likely to updated on a regular basis. But no one knows how quickly this transition will occur and websites where mobile devices are less likely to be for access will probably retain Flash longer than others.

    If you rely heavily on Flash enabled websites and need that functionality on a mobile device like a tablet, you have a dilemma. You may be able to use a mobile browser that enables you to view/interact with that content, but there's no universal guarantee that you won't run into difficulties. If you expect to use a device for no more than a year or two and Flash is important to you, you may be better off getting one that supports it. But my guess is that that description fits a very small number of people.
  13. FloatingBones macrumors 65816


    Jul 19, 2006
    That's not exactly accurate. There are alternatives to Flash for the iPad like iSwifter and Puffin; these run the Flash on an intermediate server. For dealing with occasional Flash sites, these should work just fine.

    Adobe has been communicating for over a year that Flash is not a universal solution and that developers should be generating solutions without it. Adobe's announcement last week to drop Flash support for handheld devices was hardly a surprise to anyone who read John Nack's blog post from October of 2010.

    Adobe's announcement should accelerate the conversion to Flash-free websites.

    As noted above, there are workarounds for accessing those ever-shrinking number of Flash sites on the iPad. Your suggestion would not accurately simulate the environment on the iPad.

    This is a strange non-sequitur in the discussion. It's also completely false: I have never ever found a single person here who supports Apple's decisions in every matter. Nobody here in this discussion does that. We are interested in finding solutions for the OP.

    While the "odds are very high" that the OP's pattern of usage is different, that also is a non-sequitur. It has nothing to do with the odds that the OP will be satisfied using apps like iSwifter and Puffin on an iPad. The way to test that is to get an iPad and try it for a day or two.

    If the poor chap is using Flash on every single website he uses, then he is already having a miserable time on the web. :D

    Flash is going away; there is little reason to base your decision on a tablet device on the availability of Flash. If the OP has any fear about this, he can try an iPad for a few days to see if it satisfies his needs and return it if it doesn't.

    Shockwave/Flash has used different means to deliver content on computers. In the past, Flash used the Java Runtime Environment to animate code. Currently, it uses SWF files to deliver the content to the Flash runtime environment. Adobe is recommending that website developers abandon the use of SWF files on their sites; they recommend the use of Wallaby to generate HTML5 code instead.

    Your source seems to be this page from Adobe's site:

    Adobe fails to provide any date for when that Alexa number was tabulated. They fail to say if Flash is providing an essential function on those sites. It's kinda like the claims of a product that is "Used by 85% of the Fortune 500" -- it says absolutely nothing if the product has some mainstream use or is only there for some fringe applications.

    There is plenty of reason to doubt Adobe's claim of being available "to 80% of web-connected computers". Apple reported that over a quarter-billion cumulative iOS devices had been sold in its FY11 Q4 financial results call. In the last quarter they added over 28 million devices ( 11.1M iPads and 17.07M iPhones -- iPod Touch sales were not explicitly reported). Even if those quarterly numbers don't continue to expand, Apple should easily exceed 300M iOS devices by the end of the first quarter of calendar year 2012. This is only one segment of the marketplace that cannot directly access Flash on the browser. They fail to provide any reference to their 80% claim.

    As noted above, Adobe has officially abandoned Flash development for handheld devices, and they have publicly recommended to website developers to deliver Flash-free website solutions for over a year. Flash was never ubiquitous and is now in serious decline.

    While it has improved somewhat, Flash has never worked well on handheld devices. It was a colossal train wreck back in 2007 when the iPhone was released. Apple was unwilling to cede the quality and user experience of a critical component of the iPhone -- the web browser -- to a third party.

    Jobs spelled out the reasons that iOS devices went Flash-free in his 2010 Thoughts on Flash memo. The most important reason noted was the shortcomings that limit all of the lowest-common-denominator approaches (e.g., Flash, Java, etc.). Jobs spells it out quite well in the memo; I recommend anyone curious to read that memo.

    If there is some exemplary Flash code, developers have the option of delivering that code to handheld users via the various app stores. The Flash game Machinarium has done quite well: it was briefly the #1 paid iPad app in the entire app store. If you think about it, the App Store model provides a way for users to "opt in" to Flash apps.

    Apple rejected the execution of Flash code in any browser on iOS devices. In general, Apple rejects the execution of downloaded code on iOS devices -- unless that code is submitted and approved for listing in the iOS app store.

    Java has nothing to do with a general solution to coding websites. Besides being Flash-free, iOS browsers are also Java-free. If you read the "Thoughts on Flash" memo, you'll see that most of the criticisms also apply to Java.

    The general solution is for websites using legacy technology is to convert to HTML. If there is some exemplary Flash apps on the websites, they can provide than package those apps onto the iOS app store.

    I do agree that running hundreds of apps would be problematic. But users have the ability to sort this out on their own. Between the increasing functionality of HTML5 (influenced by Adobe) and the availability of legacy code in the various app stores, we can make a smooth transition to a Flash-free browsing experience.

    Flash has some fundamental problems; I believe we would have wound up with a Flash-free world eventually. Apple noticed the long-term unworkability of Flash and drew a line in the sand. During the transition, there will be some disruption, but it will sort itself out.

    I do hope all of those restaurants and small businesses with legacy Flash sites convert rapidly to HTML. Now that Adobe has made an official announcement, there is definitely a business opportunity for developers to de-Flash all of those legacy websites.

    Java does not run in those quarter-billion iOS browsers. HTML5/Java is a non-solution. Java is not part of the general solution for websites.

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