Friday, November 11, 2011

Adobe is ceasing development for the Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers

Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers. Adobe is ceasing development for the Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers. What does this mean for users?

If you have a Flash enabled Android or BlackBerry device it will continue to work. Adobe today release one more feature update to Abobe Flash Player 11 for mobile, version 11.1. After that Abobe will release  security updates and bug fixes for Abobe Flash Player. When version Flash Player 12 rolls out, there won't be a browser plugin for the mobile browsers.

If you have a device that does not support the Abobe Flash Player 11 for mobile at the present time, well the Flash plugin for the mobile browser is not coming to your device ever.

One day we won't need Flash...

... but for the next 2-3 years or even longer, it is still great to have it.

HTML5. The Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers promised a common web experience between desktop browsing and mobile browsing. A large segment of the community has been against Flash because it is a proprietary format owned by Adobe. Apple banned Flash from its iOS devices. More recently, Microsoft announced that the Windows 8 Metro browser will not be supporting Flash. On the Android camp, many Android devices do not support the Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers. HTML5 is the web standard which the opponent of Flash have supported as its replacement. 

Premature departure? HTML5 will probably develop to the point where it could replace Flash.  It  looks like it will be trust to the limelight a year or two early. The strength of Flash was that it was run on a third party plugin from a common source. Whether you run Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera, Flash content was run by the a single common plugin so it operated the same across all browsers.

While the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera all support Flash,  each browser interprets things in its own way. Basically, in a way it is like going back a decade. We are going back to the days where sites announced "This Site is Optimized for Internet Explorer".

... or maybe "This Site Does not Run on Internet Explorer. Amazon's HTML5 KIndle Cloud Reader page does not run on IE, iPhone's and Android phones and tablets.

Expect to see a HTML5 standards war for the next year or two. At present, there is still no single common standard for HTML 5. On this matter, IMC Germany writes:
It is important to understand that HTML is (not yet) a medium which can make content available in the same format on all browsers and end devices. The more complex the content becomes (animations, interactions, sound, video etc.), the more complex is the development and quality assurance process to guarantee the correct display in the required browsers and on end devices. It is therefore also important to hold an intensive discussion with the project participators before beginning the project, asking the question: Which features need to be implemented and in which browsers and on which end devices should it then be possible to access the content?

As the HTML5 standard develops, expect web developers to build a safer more conservative web to minimize browser compatibility issues.

There are other features still missing on HTML5. HTML5 still does not support Digital Rights Management protection. So if a video were posted in the web using HTML5, anyone could right click and save the file on their computer. It would appear Flash will still be use for displaying copyright protected work online.

eLearning is another area where HTML5 is not yet ready to tackle. If you build an online exam in HTML5 a student could right click on the browser and view the page source to reveal the answers. Given that low cost mobile devices are important for eLearning, this gap can be bridged by apps instead.

There are many more examples, but basically HTML5 is not ready to replace Flash for all uses.

Dual web? Having killed Flash Player plugin for mobile browsers, I think it would probably better if Flash were killed all together. Adobe is not getting out of Flash altogether. The direction it wants it developers to go is to create Flash apps using Adobe AIR and HTML5 for mobile. One desktops, Adobe plans to use its Flash Player plugin and HTML5.

If Abode succeeds in its now direction, there will never be a common web for mobile and desktop devices and things will continue as they do today with many websites have dedicated mobile and desktop versions.

While a "compromised" version of the web is probably acceptable to most on a mobile phone, tablets with their larger screens should offer a full web experience. Right now it would seem the only way for a tablet to offer a offer a full web experience is not for Flash to come to the tablet browser but for Flash to get out of the web altogether. BlackBerry has announced it will continue to support Flash on its own PlayBooks browser.

Even if Flashed use did stop altogether, it will be a long time before all the Flash content on the web becomes irrelevant.


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