There has been a lot of talk about Flash and HTML5, a discussion that seems to only have bubbled up to the surface recently. Most of it is directed at having HTML5 replace Flash, a move supported by both Firefox blocking all Flash plugins in July, as well as YouTube making the change over to their HTML5 player. So why are so many people jumping ship to HTML5?
People who have been using the internet for a while will remember when Flash was the top dog. Flash applications brought interactivity and animation to websites. Flash games became popular, and entire websites were created to host and share Flash animations and games. So why, a decade later, has Flash become the Internet’s worst enemy?
The animosity against Flash didn’t start recently, or even within this year. While Flash started off well, it began to have a slow downhill slide. What caused this slide depends on who you ask, many pointing to when Flash was bought by Adobe. A lot of people point the finger at when the iPhone came out in 2007 and Flash couldn’t be put installed on the device. Since the mobile market took off, there has been a lot of issues getting Flash to run on mobile devices. In fact, Steve Jobs made an open letter discussing his issues, such as draining device’s battery, and being incompatible with touch screens. Not only that, but the rise of devices and computers that run the Apple operating system meant that Flash was under even more scrutiny; it’s since Apple refuses to support it.
But is the lack of mobile and Apple’s support the only reason? Definitely not. After all, Mozilla Firefox doesn’t have a main focus with either market, and they still made the choice to block the plugin. The reason Firefox blocked Flash was due to the security wtih the plugin, including one that happened only last July. This is because Flash requires the users download the Flash Player in order to view Flash apps, and any holes found in this player can be exploited to attack computers. Given that HTML5 doesn’t require a player to play at all, it’s more secure for computers than Flash.
But what about YouTube? Why did the world’s most popular video player make the jump? Not only did they quote the reason of extra functionality outside of the desktop browser, they also say HTML5’s adoption of what’s called ‘adaptive bitrate’ caused YouTube to make the jump over to HTML5 over Flash.
For those who are not network nuts, ‘adaptive bitrate’ allows a video to monitor both your bandwidth capabilities and your processor’s power, and adjusts the video’s quality based on what it finds. This means if you’re on a poor internet connection or have a weak PC, the video will automatically ‘dim the quality’ so that you can watch videos with little buffering. The change to HTML5 reduced buffering by 50% globally, and 80% on networks with huge network traffic. That’s a lot less waiting!
So, why not tear out all Flash apps and replace them with HTML5 already? Unfortunately, while the technology behind HTML5 is definitely growing, it’s still doing just that – growing. Some critics state that theIinternet has become so dependent on Flash, that it will never truly die. With HTML5’s lack of need of a player, better video handling, and less security flaws, however, it has a chance to become the net’s new main way to present content – even if it takes a while to get there.
Do you think Flash’s days are numbered, or do you think it’s here to stay? Let us know in the comments below.