Why Apple rejects Flash?


Last month Steve Jobs wrote about what Apple though of Adobe’s Flash and why Apple did not feature the Flash technology in any of the handheld devices of it (iPhone, iPod, or iPad). The article mentioned some strong reasons to back its claim that Apple is better off without Flash. Hence an iPhone developer cannot implement the Flash technology during iPhone development. Apple still allows the developers to integrate the Flash technology to build on the Mac platform though. It is not because of any ego clashes that Apple does not allow Flash to run on the iPhone devices, it is because of some genuine technical reasons. These are:

1.Open vs. Proprietary. Even with the wide availability of Adobe’s Flash products, the Flash itself is not open. Flash is still under Adobe’s proprietary, i.e. Adobe alone has rights to enhance the technology in the future and price it. Apple believes that all web standards should be open to all iPhone developers and hence encourages the use of HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript to develop high performance apps.

2.Full Web Access. It is majorly believed that more than 75% of the Internet’s videos are Flash based, but actually these videos are also available in other modern formats like the H.264 that is viewable on the iPhones, iPods, and iPads. Another point that Apple mentions is that the absence of Flash based games on the handheld devices is filled in by the growing number (50,000 and still counting) of the games available for the iPhone OS.

3.Reliability, Security, and Performance. Apple has had a bad experience of Flash on its Mac platform as Flash is the number one reason for the Macs to crash. Apple, clearly, does not want to carry the unreliability of Flash on to their iPhones, iPods, and iPads and compromise their performance.

4.The Battery Life. It has been proven that running a software based program consumes more battery than a program utilizing the hardware directly. Flash is a software on its own that runs on the hardware, i.e. any video running on the Flash platform needs to be decoded on Flash (which in turn uses the processor). Apple believes why not use the processor to decode the videos than do it through any other software. Hence using the H.264 format that is compatible with the modern processors Apple mobile devices save up to half of the battery life while viewing any videos.

5.Touch vs. Mice. This is the most interesting debate of them all. It is widely known that Flash was introduced to improve the user experience of the PCs. Hence nice little cute gestures were implemented for mouse rollover and popup menus. The fact that iPhones, iPods, and iPads use human touch and not a mouse says it all for itself. Modern technologies like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript support touch-based interactions and hence Apple encourages the iPhone developer to implement them in iPhone development.

6.Third-party Integration. Including Flash would result in Adobe controlling the iPhone developers’ progress. If any technology like Flash comes in between the device and the iPhone developer, the developers need to rely on the libraries of the technology to utilize the device features during iPhone development. What if the device was updated, but the middle technologies refused to adopt those updates? To avoid this scary scenario, Apple avoids any third-party integration completely so that the developers can fully take the advantage of the device and utilize its features optimally through iPhone development.

Apple mentions that there has to be a direct connection between the platform provided by Apple and its developers so that they can jointly produce the best apps that the world has seen and hence everyone wins – Apple sells more products, and the developers reach a wider audience. This post is surely aimed for the critics and Adobe itself that Apple is missing out on something by not including Flash on its platform.

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