For the non-computer geeky, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that word might be what goes down on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras festivities. Or perhaps you think of that superhero guy. Or maybe you picture one of those crazy, fun flash mobs.
But for us web designers, we have to admit that Adobe Flash Player usually pops into our heads first.
Even if Flash Player isn’t really on your radar, chances are pretty good that it’s a major part of your internet experience. Many of the videos you view on your fave webpages only show up on your computer screen thanks to what Flash does behind the scenes.
But Apple has challenged the world to see what the internet would be like without Flash. Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices do not support Flash, so videos that require its help to be viewed just flat out don’t work on these devices.
Instead, the most recent version of Safari, the browser that these devices use, has HTML5 capabilities. Since one of the features of HTML5 is video streaming, websites with videos that were designed with HTML5 in mind will display nicely on these devices.
But what about all those websites out there that still require Flash?
A Little DeFlashifying
Adobe doesn’t want all those websites that rely on their program to flounder on Apple devices, so they’ve come up with a solution. This article from Mashable explains that Wallaby is a Flash-to-HTML conversion tool that will help designers change Flash files into HTML5. By using Wallaby, web designers don’t have to go through a big ordeal to make their sites show up on iPads and the like.
Very cool…but what does that mean for Flash down the road? If the solution to Apple’s rejection of Flash is to convert Flash files to HTML5…then does that mean Flash is on its way out?
It’s tough to tell. After all, even though Apple devices aren’t playing nice with Flash, other smartphones and tablets are. In fact, according to this article from electronista.com, Adobe predicts that over half of smartphones will use Flash by 2012. And Adobe Flash Player still does its thing quite well on regular computers. So maybe Flash will still be useful down the road, even as the world wide web embraces HTML5.
For now, next time you use your computer to enjoy a three-minute procrastination break courtesy of a flash mob dancing its way across YouTube, thank FlashPlayer.