Flash may have once been the de facto way to deliver video and animation on the web, but Apple doesn’t even bother to put Flash on the Mac anymore, and, of course, Flash is all but dead on mobile devices. What a shame. Flash is the best it’s ever been.
We Hardly Knew Ye
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ notorious rant against Flash simply stated the obvious. Flash performance on the Mac was horrible, and only worse on the iPhone.
Flash is dead, right? The future for video and animation is HTML5, right? Maybe so. Apple’s disdain of Flash doesn’t seem to have hurt Apple anywhere– not with users, not with the enterprise.
What’s sad about the Flash saga is that the latest version of Flash– both as a standalone player, and as a browser plug-in for Safari and Firefox– could be considered the best ever.
For specific sites I keep Flash running on one of my MacBooks. When browsing, Flash advertisements display on nearly every webpage. What does that do? It increase the Mac’s CPU, the fan comes on, the battery begins to drain faster.
And that’s the good news. The bad news is that whenever Flash is running on Safari, the Mac browser crashes far more often; more so if four or five tabs are open to websites with advertisements. Without Flash, the battery lasts longer on my MacBook, and the fan seldom turns on.
So why is the latest version of Flash the best player ever? Because previous versions were so bad, bordering on absolutely awful, and Adobe continues to do two things to Flash. Work out the bugs and security issues. And, make it better.
Here’s how I analyze the latest Flash plug-in for Safari. It crashes less. It uses less CPU. It drains the battery slower. In other words, Flash has improved. The problem with what could be argued is the best Flash ever is that, well, it’s still Flash.
Adobe still pushes Flash onto the great unwashed masses of PC users. Flash does games, and interactive sites, and HD video, and it’s optimized for multicore CPUs. But it’s still Flash, and despite new features and improvements in performance, Flash still uses more of your Mac’s CPU than other plug-ins, which uses more battery.
There’s a reason you just don’t see Flash on today’s smartphones. Flash needs plain old fashioned CPU horsepower and constant babysitting. It’s an aging, inelegant technology with roots deep in the last century. It may be better than ever, but Flash is what it is.
Adobe won’t dump Flash to the landfill of discarded technologies, but the handwriting is on the wall. Flash is not in your future.