Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Flash and the iPhone

You know, it’s just rude to have a comments link on your article but close the comments (or render it inoperable) and not state that somewhere on the page. I clicked on the stupid link several times before giving up when nothing happened. Whatever, the web is a rude place. I’m used to it. The point is Ross Rubin wrote (in aforementioned rude article) that he believes Apple needs to include Flash support as part of the iPhone. He makes a good argument, and it looks like Apple is going to do it; but I think there are still two two key issues that the no-flash complaints are missing: Can Apple do it without Adobe and the fact that the Flash plugin is crap. ((Not Flash itself. I am a HUGE fan of Flash the media. I’m talking about the program that renders Flash in the browser. It blows.)) When you control-click on a browser page as opposed to control-clicking on a Flash rendered area, you will get two different contextual menus. This would seem to indicate that Flash rendered areas of the page are directly dealing with user input, and the iPhone’s user input is substantially different from mouse pointing. For instance, when a user pinches the screen on an iPhone would the Flash plugin, as it stands now, know to pass that information on to Safari? Clearly, Adobe would have to have something to do with the development, and they don’t seem to be getting along right now. The question seems not to be will Apple want Flash on the iPhone, but rather, will Adobe help them do it?

Moreover, the Flash plugin has historically been a resource hog. When I was doing more Flash development a few years ago, some fellow developers and I figured out that we could actually get the fan in a Pentium machine to turn on by running certain Flash scripts. What that means is Flash is eating up resources on the CPU at a ridiculous rate and heating up the chip. For Apple’s iPhone that would translate into both heat and lowered battery life. My bet, is that they want people to get used to the idea that the iPhone has great battery life and doesn’t heat up in your pocket. Then, when they do introduce Flash, consumers will more likely be aware of who is the correct party to blame when playing Desktop Tower Defense kills their iPhone.

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