I was an early adopter of the iPad, the least expensive version available at $549 here in Canada. I’ve had it for several months now… but before buying I was not even sure if I’d like it. I took the plunge, since its not that much money. Soon I discovered that I do indeed like — but not love — the little touchscreen device for what it does. It is great for reading, surfing the web and consuming information, but it’s input capabilities are quite limited compared to traditional computers. My wife loves our iPad, I would say, as evidenced by the number of times I’ve seen it in her hands. But here’s one thing that bugs me about this little touchscreen computer: it doesn’t work with most standard Flash websites, of which there are a great many.
Flash is very popular, for now
Flash is the technology that YouTube built its business on, and it’s not going away anytime soon though it is losing ground fast. Years ago was its glory, when YouTube was sold to Google for more than $2 Billion dollars, and all their video technology was based on Flash at the time. The folks at Adobe must have been tickled pink. But the technology world is not static, and years of development has passed. Things change for the worse, or in the wrong direction, while other things improve. I’m not sure why Flash is so off-the-rails at times – like its problem with being a major CPU hog at unwanted times.
I agree with many of the media expends, bloggers, pundits and technology leaders out there, including the essay by Steve Jobs, who have all said that Flash isn’t moving forward fast enough, isn’t fixing some inherent problems in its internal infrastructure. A few have even argued that it’s a dying technology in one sense, at HTML5 picks up steam with all major browser vendors supporting its new video-based features. Flash, well it may indeed fade away quite a bit over these next few years. It’s up to Adobe, and whatever happens I think Flash is pervasive enough that remnants of it would still be everywhere and for years to come. Flash has its set of problems, including a pile security issues, patch management that was late and buggy, and it’s tendency to be a CPU hog and slow and crashable and infrequently updated… Abode needs to work closer with hardware manufacturers including Apple and figure out how to make it more efficient to run on low-power devices… who knows? If I could predict the future I’d be a very rich man. For the most part I like Flash, and I certainly like many Flash-based websites that couldn’t have been created without the technology from Adobe.
Keeping it easy for children – a lesson in Ease-of-Use
A good friend of mine was visiting us today, and he brought his wife and three children along. The pre-teen children quickly noticed the iPad with its unusually good looks (it is a beautifully designed device like many Apple products). The oldest girl was intrigued and asked if she could try it out, and we quickly browsed to a website that was predominantly Flash-based. The screen went green and blank, and nothing happened…. I until scrolled far down on the page to finally find any HTML content in there. You see, Flash doesn’t display at all on iPads today, just HTML text and images. It was very confusing and not a great way to show off the iPad to my guests, I might add.
The iPad’s touch interface is amazing
Eventually we found a different website she was interested in that displayed fine on the iPad, and I could show her the cool zooming capability of the iPad known as “pinch” and “expand” by making these gestures with our fingers… scrolling takes just one finger, and it is a very nice to touch a display and have it respond naturally. Apple is still a wizard in User Interface (UI) design! No one should argue that they pioneered multi-touch gesture displays and technology with their iPhone, and even back in 2007 it was revolutionary to smartphone technology. That might be why they grew into a huge billion-dollar business for Apple overnight, and why they’ve sold so many of them.
Apple and Adobe finding common ground
I wish that Adobe would finally write an app that provides Flash capabilities for the iPad and iPhone, and then upload it to the iTunes Store for approval. Make it free, of course, just like Flash plugins we find on personal computers. Then millions of users can have the ultimate in choice… instead of that choice being decided by Apple. I, for one, would like to see how much faster my iPad’s battery drains, and how much hotter the device gets, when Flash is running on it. Even with these tradeoffs, I still want Flash. It would be a good strategic move too for Adobe to help keep Flash alive in the HTML5 era, which is soon upon us in all major browsers out there and threatening to dethrone Flash once and for all. Adobe, time to strut your stuff.