Apple's idea of the best web browsing experience

Just hours after the product got announced, a lot has already been said and written about the Apple iPad and I don’t particularly feel I have a lot to add except for that “one more thing”.

I’ve been working almost exclusively on Mac for about five years now and its a decision I’ve never regretted. One thing I’ve always admired is how polished the user experience is and the attention for details makes Apple products a real joy to work with.

Today, Steve Jobs proudly proclaimed “It’s the best web experience you’ve ever had.” — while I would love to believe him on that, this is what we saw.

iPad - no Flash Player support

No Flash Player support. Surprising? Not really. Disappointing? Yes.

Think of Flash what you will, thats a different discussion, and I’ve shared my views in an earlier post. Flash content is an integral and important part of the web experience, there’s a full decade of SWF material out on the Internet that is essentially out of bounds for your users.

On a mobile device with limited specs we could see some reasoning behind it, although just about every other mobile manufacturer didn’t find it a problem to partner in the Open Screen Project and roll out Flash Player 10.1 support on their devices.

With the iPad we’re talking about a different device, a processor that clearly is capable of high performance rendering and a user base with different expectations when they sit down in their sofa to browse the web, play games, watch video and cartoons,…

This is your chance to really go for the best web browsing experience possible. With an iPad specific SDK reportedly coming out, work with Adobe and allow them to roll out a Flash Player for your new device. It will allow your users to opt-in to what a lot of us believe is a better experience on this ground breaking device.

To those of you that agree that Flash support is essential for a device like the iPad, I urge you to speak up as many have already done.

 

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46 thoughts on “Apple's idea of the best web browsing experience

  1. rad_g says:

    You say there is a lot of SWF content being integral part of the web. Funnily enough – most I see is stupid banners and adverts playing video without asking for permission. Until Adobe doesn’t come in with a way to block autostart of the video and audio I block Flash everywhere I can.

  2. Peter says:

    @rad_g

    Its not up to Adobe to block autostart of audio/video, that is a feature browsers could possibly built in and in fact most legitimate ad networks require to in order to run your banner.

    The point about advertisements is a good one though, immersive ad campaigns have for years relied on Flash and, even though it might not be the most popular thing, it pays the bills for a lot of the sites we all know and love.

    There’s countless examples of Flash based apps, games (think Facebook, MySpace) and video sites. I always recommend people to go without Flash Player for a day and try out what the experience is like on an iPhone — see where things start to fall apart.

  3. step21 says:

    the thing is, flash on os x is just really bad performance wise … this does not only pertain to video, but everything. So much so that without adblocker/flashblocker my macbook air would be a lot slower with some tabs open. so why would it better on mobile os x? I know that adobe says that is because apple doesn’t allow access to the required hardware acceleration api (at least for video), but I find that hard to believe, most of all because as I said, this does not only apply to video but to all flash content.
    But even if that’s true than adobe should either sue apple for anticompetitive behaviour or find a way around this limitation.

  4. Alex Salapatas says:

    I am a flash web developer so, I’ ve build websites totally in flash and I’m also building a flex/air app for specific medical areas in which the iPad would have a beauty to hold, imagine a doctor with an iPad device accessing the patient’s medical history. It can only be done in air easily enough though and iPad now does not even fit in this model… damn Apple… I just hope they are planning an update with adobe… when everything is ready…

  5. Peter says:

    @step21

    in respect to that, I’d be interested to see how Flash Player 10.1 does there in some hands on tests — the team has been heads down for a long time specifically targeting mobile devices and memory consumption and other optimization have been high on their priority list.

    You can see some video from the engineers explaining their efforts here: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/articles/mobile_demos_fp10.1.html

    The iPhone SDK exposes hardware acceleration and would be surprised if the iPad would not be able to leverage that. Its up to Adobe to deliver on this but Apple needs to allow them to.

  6. Keeko says:

    I’m so tired of people’s only argument against flash being the “banners”. It’s just a matter of time until all those “banners” are no longer flash but HTML5. Then what? Let’s bash HTML5.

    Grow up people. Flash has done so much for the movement of the web it’s ridiculous. This is indeed a Huge setback for Apple IMHO.

    They may be protecting their App store, but in doing so, they may be limiting the iPad to being no more the a “gadget” my kids want for Xmas to watch youtube on and play sub par games compared to the Xbox and PS3 in the house. (Since true mobility is practically shot with the size of the tablet)

    Time will tell I guess, but there’s a chance Apple just opened up a floodgate of competitors that could leverage Flash to fill the HUGE Gap they just created.

    Thanks for the post Peter.

  7. step21 says:

    @Keeko html5’s toll on resources is much less than that of html 5. best comparison: run a youtube (flash) video on a macbook air running os x, and then do the same with a video using html5 (with youtubes html5 player enabled). result: high quality video with html 5 not only loads faster but also takes maximum 50% resources flash uses (cpu utilization).

  8. Peter says:

    @step21 –

    For that you might want to compare the same video codecs between the youtube Flash video and HTML5 video, thats a different discussion on CPU load there (also gets into licensing issues and the Firefox H.264 debacle)

  9. With over 70% of web games and 75% of web video running in Flash, I’d submit that Flash is a lot more than just adverts and banners to the Web experience.

    Give an iPad to a kid and then try explaining to them why it won’t run Webkinz or Club Penguin. They don’t care about plugins, they care that they can’t play their favorite game.

    (obligatory disclaimer: Adobe employee)

  10. step21 says:

    It’s my understanding that HTML5 video uses less CPU on a Mac than Flash video, because both Safari and Chrome pass the video rendering to QuickTime, which has access to the GPU. Unfortunately, as Adobe has mentioned before there’s apparently no public API for hardware acceleration for them to access for Flash.

  11. Omarrr says:

    I agree with Jobs; “the best browsing experience” is without Flash.

    Mr. Jobs, now that we are on it, could you also kill the animated GIF format? I only see them on annoying ads or stupid LOL cat sequences anyways…

    Now that I’ve come to think of it, why not get rid of GIF format altogether? JPEG works just fine.

    Omar

  12. Peter says:

    @Omarrr

    Steve Jobs has to my knowledge never come out saying he thinks Flash does not belong on the best browsing experience. The official reasoning has always been that the plugin is too resource intensive to run well on their iPhone / iPod Touch devices.

    My call here is: new tech specs, very strong Flash Player optimizations for mobile, an increased user base that wants it — review your policies and allow Adobe to show it can deliver.

    Pragmatism is lost on some, lets try a day on the web without SWF and GIF. Why not leave out HTML table tags while we’re at it 😉

  13. Marc Permanyer says:

    Hey teacher leave us kids alone
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall 😉

  14. wonderwhy-er says:

    Well two years ago I bought iPhone. At a time there were no real alternative so I almost not regret my decision then. Now there is no point in buying iPad as there are(and soon will be more) alternatives that run Android/Chrome/Linux/Windows and do not include “Apple special features” like no multitask, no Flash, no real control over device (iTunes/AppStore reign over what/how you mostly add to device), MacOS only development (tough this finally comes to an end with Unity/Flash adding abilities of creating native iPhone apps).
    I guess iPad still will be successful but I have no more interest in Apple phones or other devices. I was pretty neutral towards Apple products before but after owning iPhone they showed me that they can do impressive hardware, not so bad software, but also they showed that they can take from device something I never realized was there. Freedom of using it the way I see fit…

  15. Hans says:

    Seriously:

    Google Nexus also runs on an 1 GHz CPU. But why there is no Adobe Flash plugin available for Android!?

    Got you!

    Hans

  16. wonderwhy-er says:

    @Hans:
    I am not shore may be you are joking. English is not my native language.
    Nexus will have Flash. At least I saw official Adobe videos featuring that:
    http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2010/01/googles_nexus_one_will_have_fl.html

    May be plugin is not available yet but Flash 10.1 is coming out on many mobile devices right now. So they do provide full web browsing experience, and iPad does not.

  17. step21 says:

    @wonderwhy It’s true that some android devices have flash, but most don’t. The adobe site doesn’t mean anything, because on that site everthing has flash, doesn’t mean they can ship it. The bigger joke imho is that Apple praised the ‘super fast’ new chip and how innovative it is, when the same chip already runs in devices half the size.

  18. lassegs says:

    The sooner Flash dies in a fire the better.
    * Its closed
    * Its buggy
    * Its CPU-intensive
    * It fukcs up my browser in both OSX and Linux.

    I dont particularly like the iPad, but if it helps HTML5 and , more power to it!

  19. macilvena says:

    Oh this is so sad, if a device doesn’t support flash it is not really worth buying as a internet access device.
    The only reason apple doesn’t want it is to protect sales in their store.
    To Steve Jobs : Steve please grow up and listen to the kids and the new generation (BTW Im 47) we just want to use your devices to access the web 100% whether it be kids cartoon sites, games sites, video sites, or even porn sites as long as it is not illegal why do you think you have the right to dictate what we do on the internet.
    Even Bill Gates has never believed he can tell people what they can and cant do…and I am not a Microsoft fan myself I own 3 macs at the moment and a ipod touch… but you know you wouldn’t get away with this if you didn’t allow flash on a mac computer, so if you really want to give the world your best internet experience Im afraid you are going to have to allow stuff you dont really like personally in the end and be realistic thats the world is full of people with the right to do what they want if its not illegal, its like Ford making cars that will not travel on a bumpy road !!!

    Grow up Steve and act like an adult not a young kid that thinks he knows better than everybody else…otherwise as technology progresses you will find yourself left behind..Google are going to take you on and win in the end and i dont want to see that as your computers and product are great but if they will only do some of the things i want they will never replace only supplement stuff that does

    you have been warned :lol

  20. TituS says:

    Rad_g , lassegsand and omarrrr

    You obviously don’t want to check your google analytics page and many other very useful flash apps. My own site (happylines.no) has a flash preview app to show my product in different colours which my customers find extremely helpful.
    Flash should be a no-brainer. It’s not there because of Apple’s (Mr Jobs’) ego and the consumer is suffering.
    Apple will fail with the ipad, sorry.
    Have you not noticed that the google phone is now 38% more popular than the iphone. Google shares and expands user experience where apple constricts it. There was a time where apple could get away with it but that time has passed and we will vote with our wallets.

  21. lassegs says:

    TituS
    TL;DR
    Im sure your preview app is great, and there are several other sites that deliver great services through Flash.
    The problem is just that, its delivered through Flash – Flash isnt open, isnt free and shouldnt be part of the web. With HTML5, CSS3 and browsers handling javascript efficiently there is no longer (thank god) a use for flash on the Web.

    The web is open. Flash is not. Ergo Flash doesnt belong on the web.
    This is principle standpoint, the more pragmatic one is in my previous comment:

    “* Its buggy
    * Its CPU-intensive
    * It fukcs up my browser in both OSX and Linux.”

    Im very much supporting Google in what they are doing, promoting openness, and I too believe that it is on its way to conquer the smart-phone market. But Apple has always made, and continues to make niche products. Some people will never let go of their iStuff. And the iPad will certainly not fail, because its standing on the shoulders of giants, the iPod, the iPod Touch and the iPhone. But it will meet serious competative challenges from Windows-, Moblin-, Android-, and ChromeOS-powered tablets. But Google is doing their part to make Flash obsolete: Chrome handles Javascript way faster than Flash handles Actionscript.

  22. Jay Perkins says:

    I am sorry, Flash is just dying. A major security nightmare combined with Adobe’s corporate problems post-meger resulting in the loss of a big part of the talent on the Flash development team.

    Add to this the availability of HTML 5 canvas ( http://3.paulhamill.com/node/39 ) currently
    in broswers (except MSIE at the writing) and the future is not with Flash.

  23. wonderwhy-er says:

    Future of RIA may not be with Flash for various reasons. But in present Flash is best platform for cross-platform/browser RIA.

    You may say that this Apple move could add more momentum to HTML5 future. But in present iPad is pretty much misses on majority of RIA web experience. Only way it can be delivered to iPad is trough AppStore by building applications, using mac only tools (mostly), having license, going trough approval, having issues with global distribution (I still don’t get majority of stuff in local AppStore, basically I just stopped using it). What part of it is made in open web spirit? Apple is just covering behind many marketing words to cover their gold cow “AppStore”.

    By the way you know that iBook store will be US only? I wonder if they will start banning Book applications from AppStore on “duplicating”, “providing quality and censoring unappropriated stuff”. After all moves Apple did so far I would not be so surprised.

    May be future is not with Flash being not open web friendly (well there are issues to be honest), but it is not with Apple ways of control, censoring, locking ecosystem down aether. I actually wish HTML5 comes faster with all that WebGL and good IDE’s to crush Apple closed app ecosystem or reveal true Apple face.

  24. Matthew Fabb says:

    To those who say it’s great that Apple is not including Flash on the iPad and that this is a victory for the so called “open web”, what happens when Apple start disabling new HTML5 tags on Safari mobile? As the biggest reason they don’t seem to want Flash is for control.

    Just look at Google and the problems they had with getting their Google Voice application onto the iPhone. Since they have been rejected, they now seem to be beefing up their HTML application version, and basically bypassing Apple. Apple may want to take back this control and disable Safari mobile beyond just not including plugins.

    Also as someone who doesn’t own an iPhone myself, what about QuickTime video on the iPhone and now iPad? I know QuickTime is used to render the HTML5 video tag but what about QuickTime embedded into a webpage? I assume that Apple supports the QuickTime plugin on the iPhone, am I wrong?

  25. carbonsink says:

    Apple makes $1.4 billion a year from the App Store. That’s what they’re protecting. It has nothing to do with performance, or openness, or HTML5. Anyone who believes otherwise is delusional.

    Adobe has a 25 year relationship with Apple. Millions of Macs have been sold to run Adobe software. Adobe management must be ropeable.

    Apple is evil.
    Steve Jobs is evil.
    Roll on Android.

  26. Jim says:

    Flash is the worst, unfortunately.
    Think of the energy wasted from a couple hundred million computers slammed at 100% trying to play crappy video?
    But it is also unfortunately mandatory.

    So predictably typical.
    Apple to me is a clear “clueless” flag. Good for an instant read on someone.
    “Dipstick”.
    My bet is Flash chokes that castrated little beatch to a complete halt.
    Throw in, folks getting stuff for free, and that is it.
    Control freak mofo. I admit, I am a hater.
    To my rotten soul.
    But it works for me.
    Go android, go.

  27. […] besides the point, because we’re talking about a completely different product and OS here. As Peter Elst mentions, “With the iPad we’re talking about a different device, a processor that clearly is capable […]

  28. Stan Vassilev says:

    I see this as healthy for Adobe. Maybe Apple’s firm stance has made them finally direct more resources into making the player faster and more stable.

    It’s been sad to watch in the past decade, good products at Adobe growing with no particular direction and at the expense of performance and quality.

    I see only one future for Flash player, and in that future it’s light, hardware accelerated and fully standardized. Adobe thought their enemy is Silverlight, but I suspected for a long time that the quite modest capabilities of HTML5, once ubiquitious, will be their end.

  29. mh says:

    Flash

    * is buggy
    * is CPU-intensive
    * is a mem hog
    and
    * is a security issue
    * is a privacy issue

    please check: Local Shared Objects
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Shared_Object

    Lets hope we get rid off this stuff ASAP, in the meantime I recommend Flashblocker for Firefox.

    mh

  30. Eerk Henkman says:

    HTML5
    * is buggy (needs hacks and workarounds by default!)
    * becomes CPU intensive when you build an app with interaction and animation
    * has security and privacy issues

    And
    * still mixes up graphical design, content and interface functions by creating a confusing concoction of CSS, Javascript and ancient HTML markup
    * cannot decide on a standard even for the simplest things like showing a font or showing video.
    * has no real application development framework.

  31. wonderwhy-er says:

    @Eerk Henkman
    Could not agree more. Some big HTML5 apps like Google Wave indeed eat a lot of resources and crash a lot…
    But it is only beginning of the way though. Who knows where it will be in 2-3 years (approximate real time when HTML5 will come to power). Hopefully not there where current HTML is or I will be staying with Flash or its competitors(Silverlight, Unity) for RIA.

  32. marc says:

    Reading through your post, and many of the comments, it’s interesting to read some real harsh words about HTML5 and Flash as if this is a one-on-one battle to the death.
    Sites should use both to engage viewers.
    Flash is losing some ground, but money is money. Adobe can’t afford to let a product go.
    Apple can’t complain too much about Adobe. Many Apple users run Photoshop and Illustrator. I bet many people nay-saying Adobe now are doing so in Safari while tabbing back and forth between a couple Adobe programs.

  33. TJ says:

    How about identifying the reason(s) WHY Apple Inc. has shut Flash out of its mobile OS(es)? I can guess but I really don’t know.

    Is Mr. Jobs justified in calling Adobe “lazy”? Maybe they are. In a recent install of an Adobe CS on my Mac, I noticed a warming that I will be required to run an uninstaller program in order to safely uninstall the suite. I can no longer just drag the relevant directories to the Trash. This really bothered me. It suggests that the software has a scattered, sloppy organization, instead of having everything nicely structured and contained. This would justify the label “lazy”, and could also be one of the roots of Flash’s instability.

    Does anyone remember the “spaghetti-code” syndrome? Or the “DLL-hell” one? I’d just as soon not have to deal with these in a contemporary mobile-OS.

  34. TOM says:

    I really don’t like Apples closed mindset, but honestly I hate Flash on my Linux machine. It is sllllllooooooowwwww and buggy. You guys should have optimized the hell out of it, but you didn’t. Your epic fail.

    Now HTML5 with the stupid closed h264 will kill you .. not the best solution, because MPEG-LA lawyers will be after h264 users in few years, but still it is better than buggy, closed and slow flash.

    The web should be open and free! Only Ogg, Theora and HTML are truely free.

  35. Aldo says:

    OUF
    Flash is not only video on the web
    It is more than that you can create online applications, websites; it is really an UI experience.
    Apple will loose money with that device; it is cheaper than a Stylistic ST6012 or Motion c5 but it doesn’t support FLASH it is really a shame.

  36. Paul says:

    I was using my laptop the other day, and noticed that the battery life was going down much faster than usual. What is going on?, I thought. I wasn’t doing anything unusual but simple web browsing and email. I checked Activity monitor and Ahh… good old Flash. Only had one flash video that I had PAUSED and wasn’t even running, and yet it was still consuming huge CPU power.

    THAT is why Flash isn’t on the iPhone or iPad. Sheesh!

  37. GamingHorror says:

    Personally, i don’t see the big deal. A lot of people want Flash for the iPad but for the wrong reasons and without having it thought through why the iPad can’t and shouldn’t have Flash.

    http://www.gaminghorror.net/steffenj/why-the-ipad-cant-and-shouldnt-have-flash/

  38. Jim says:

    I have had the iPhone since it launch in 2007 and I am ready for an upgrade. Unless iPhone supports Flash I am going with a smartphone that does.

  39. James says:

    I absolutely do not care about flash and I absolutely DO NOT want flash anywhere near my iPad or iPhone. All the sites I visit most offer iPhone friendly video. There has been so much publicity about ‘flash on the iPhone / iPad’ that by the time the iPad comes out, there will barely be a site left without iPad friendly video.

    Whatever business and commercial motives Apple have for doing this, getting rid of battery draining flash is a good thing.

    Bye bye flash. The world is moving on without you. In a short while, few will care.

  40. Omarrr says:

    Hey James, I absolutely agree with you in wanting to control my device.

    You can turn Plugins on and off already on the iPhone so you wouldn’t see Flash even if it was available already if you choose not to.

    I, like you, want to control what goes into my device and I would love for Apple to let me choose and not force a decision which I might or might not agree with.

  41. mario says:

    What is this dictatorship and censorship? Since when does a company forces me to see only what they want me to see? I want to browse millions of flash-containing sites, I want to see everything there is to see. That’s the best browsing experience!

  42. Chris says:

    So basically Apple excludes Flash because their products are too crappy to run it? What a joke. Apple can only succeed at failing now. HTML5 will never provide the cross-browser consistency of Flash, but who knows, it may ultimately become the ideal advertising medium, because YOU CAN’T TURN IT OFF!!!

    This is foolish move on Apple’s part, not only because it limits user choice/experience, but because Adobe’s design software is damn near the only thing that Macs are used for. All Adobe has to do is stop supporting the Mac platform, and it will vanish, leaving Apple with nothing but it’s substandard, overpriced iGarbage. Bye bye Apple!

  43. Hey, I came across this article while searching for help with Microsoft Silverlight. I’ve recently switched internet browser from Google Chrome to Microsoft Internet Explorer 5. After the change I seem to have a problem with loading sites that have Microsoft Silverlight. Every time I go on a site that needs Microsoft Silverlight, my browser doesn’t load and I get a “npctrl.dll” error. I can’t seem to find out how to fix it. Any aid getting Microsoft Silverlight to function is very appreciated! Thanks

  44. Ian Petes says:

    There are 1.4 billion reasons why Apple commercially does not want to support flash/provide a full OS/or anything else/ that would reduce the revenue they plan to get from the Ipad store.

    There’s no point in arguing about flsah/HTML5 etc etc because the reasons are commercial ; at the end of the day Apple have done phenomenally well from the iphone app store and hope to repeat with the ipad. Lets face it they are not a charity…. wake up and smell the coffee…

  45. Angel Eyes says:

    iPad: No total user freedom!

    Censoring all rich media content across the web? Lot’s of excuses it all just fall in the same category… You buy a piece of high-end hardware with no total control of it on what content you want to see and what you don’t want to. Can’t they give that decision to the users? Users pay for it.

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