Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

The iPad-Adobe Flash Argument Concluded, Completely

apple versus adobe

Apple's iPhone, MacBook trackpads, and Magic Mouse all are jammed with multitouch goodness, as will the iPad be. What the iPad won't have is Flash. Because multitouch and Flash aren't compatible. The debate is closed.

Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once: The iPad won't get Adobe Flash compatibility, and this is a good thing. Ignore the public slanging match about battery life, processor cycles being eaten up, and the unicorn-torturing Adobe goes through to make Flash work...the issue is far, far simpler than this, and it's taken a Flash developer to point out why.

It's all got to do with multitouch. Or, touchscreen control in fact. Because touchscreen tech (in its current guise) can only detect when you "click" the screen. It cannot detect when your finger is just hovering over it, a direct parallel to the action when you scroll a mouse pointer over a Flash entity—or Weblink on a plain old HTML page—but do not click. This is an absolutely key tech in Flash, tagged in the code as MouseOver, and virtually every Flash implementation you've ever seen uses it in some way. Check it out for yourself, Google-up a Flash game and see what happens: Over and over again, there are two distinctly differently actions for hovering and clicking. The same thing happens in Flash-based pop-over or drop-down menus on Web pages, and even pop-over player controls on most Flash-type video sites.

Playing a Flash game on a touchscreen simply wouldn't work the same way, which in many cases would result in it being impossible to interact with at all—the same goes for those flashy, Flash-powered Web pages. The upshot of that, assuming you tell the user his device is Flash compatible, is one pissed-off user. To avoid this issue, every situation where the Flash event MouseOver appears in the code would have to be re-coded, causing many apps to be completely re-written...and that's clearly impossible.

Time and again, Apple has reminded us that it prides itself on delivering an extraordinarily high-quality user experience, and this Flash-crash would be completely in conflict with this. Hence, the iPad and iPhone and iPod Touch will not get Flash. With Google already working on replacing Flash in YouTube with HTML5 video, it's doubly underlined.

[Via RoughlyDrafted]

The Fast Company Innovation Festival