Trying out the iPad browsing experience

I did a little experiment this morning, disabling plug-ins in my browser aka “the iPad experience”.

See where things start to break down? The Apple iPad web browsing experience, not quite what you expect. Yes, there are native apps for a number of these sites (social gaming on Facebook anyone?) I’m specifically talking about the web browsing which Steve yesterday called “the best web experience you’ve ever had”.

The message here seems to be, if you have an interesting site that we don’t support create an app for it.


31 thoughts on “Trying out the iPad browsing experience

  1. Day by day and product by product Apple becomes more of a “Corporation” and less of “Woz”..

    Steve is giving a new meaning to the phrase “Think different”.

    Its sad, sad, sad.

  2. Agreed, uncle Steve seems to think we should create a parallel interweb locked inside an App Store.

    It’s frustrating because this device could have been so good. There’s a real shift in attitude towards the iPad. Even die-hard ‘Apple-can’t-do-no-wrong’ supporters are starting to call BS on this web ‘experience’.

    I had my credit card in hand for one of these, but now I’ll have to look elsewhere for a multi-touch device with Flash.

  3. Ben Darlow says:

    I’m curious; how does disabling all plugins in any way emulate the iPad experience? It’s only Flash we’re talking about here (QuickTime video playback will be supported); all other plugins aren’t widely used.

    Also, the comments complaining on the direction Apple is taking are asinine. Apple is embracing open standards by eschewing Flash. By what interpretation of the phrase is that ‘lock in’?

  4. Andrew Morton says:

    “The message here seems to be, if you have an interesting site that we don’t support create an app for it.”

    No, the message actually is: “if you only know to develop in Flash, you’re out luck”

  5. Peter says:

    @Ben Darlow

    The sites I showed in the video AFAIK don’t fall back to QuickTime to display video.

    Apple embracing open standards like SWF (since 1998)?

    Here is the format spec:

    The Flash Player virtual machine is donated to Mozilla and is available open source as the Tamarin project.

    Regardless of what you think and whether or not you like Flash as a technology there seems to be a distinct lack of pragmatism. There is a lot of SWF content out on the web and wishing it to go away won’t make it so.

  6. Peter says:

    @Andrew Morton

    That doesn’t seem to be the feeling for those partners in the Open Screen Project which is pretty much every other device running a mobile OS.

  7. Andrew Morton says:

    “That doesn’t seem to be the feeling for those partners in the Open Screen Project which is pretty much every other device running a mobile OS.”

    Fine, so why Adobe and basically every flash developer that thinks his crap would run great on mobile, keep wining about the lack of flash on Apple devices if he can count on the zillions of others?

  8. Chris says:

    Most of the complaints about missing Flash are from regular web users, not Flash devs, because suddenly pieces are missing from sites they use all the time.

    The reason for so much whining about it is that Apple hypes up the web surfing experience on these devices, then unsupports much of the webs richest content.

    Somebody is jealous that quicktime didnt become what the Flash Player did…catalyst for web video usability and rich interactivity like NO OTHER!

  9. Peter says:

    @Andrew Morton

    That is a valid point. Apple is a significant player in the mobile market and the obvious missing partner in supporting Flash content on the majority of mobile devices.

    Just to bring this on topic — what this post was about is how the “web experience” on the iPad (and other devices running on the iPhone OS) is lacking by not allowing plug-ins in its browser.

    If anyone wants to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Flash, feel free to add to the discussion here (it also has some video showing hardware accelerated Flash content compiled to native iPhone apps with Flash CS5):

  10. The anonymous Andrew (not got a website? seriously?) is right, every Flash developer has only one single skill, hates new technologies and has never touched HTML nor any other programming language.

    It probably hasn’t occurred to him that we enjoy our platform enough to stick with it, develop for it not because we’re too dumb for anything else but because we feel passionate about it? Or maybe he doesn’t know what that’s like?

    PS: my Flash crap runs great on mobile

  11. Tom Hermans says:

    While I’m not a fan of Flash, and advocating open standards for the web since longtime, I think that creating a machine that doesn’t give users full access to all available web content while it should serve exactly that purpose (among others, but it should be a tool for content consuming) is a BIG failure.

    This has nothing to do with proprietary software, but all with marketing tactics.. and the user is left behind..

    And since Flash is practically the default tool to display rich media on the web, this leaves lots and lots of people behind.

  12. Andrew Morton says:


    I actually read very few comments about regular users that would like to have Flash on iPhone, I read many more against having it. By now everybody on this planet should know that Mobile Safari and iPhone/iPod Touch do not have Flash, so can you explain why these regular users still buy truckloads of these devices and ignore the ones provided by the over 50 partners of the so called Open Screen Project?

    A word on the usage of “Open” by Adobe. It is nothing more than a marketing and PR exercise with little substance because:

    1) While SWF may be considered a de-facto standard, certainly is not Open. A standard is open when a certified standard body can actually make changes to it, with SWF only Adobe can make changes. SWF instead is *documented* (and not that clearly) which is completely different from being *open*

    2) Open screen. Complete abuse of the word just to distort its original meaning. Nothing is actually open, companies joining that project can ship Flash Player on their own devices, why this should be so special? Of course by adding the “magical” word Adobe gets in headlines, so…

    3) Tamarin. Sure, interesting piece of technology, got completely ignored by the open source community because other JavaScript VM (like the one in Mobile Safari for example) can match it in terms of performance and capabilities. And why anybody would be interested in a VM that can executed byte codes from ActionScript (a language used only by the Flash Player) is beyond my understand and evidently of many others….

  13. Andrew Morton says:

    @Stefan Richter

    No I don’t have a web site, you know, not because I bought a copy of Adobe CS4 that I feel the need to start my own blog and whatever like everybody else seem forced to do.

    By the way, your web site triggers the load of 4 instances of Flash Player just to display the same number of banner adverts; that’s probably one of the reasons people are happy by not having Flash Player on Apple mobile devices.

    Of course your “Fridge Magnet Writer” of over 11 MB runs great on iPhone; coding it in Javascript or even native would have been just a few Kb, but why not make full use of the whole hardware including the 3D chip just because you can, right?. Do you still sell the license for local enterprise usage at 600$ a pop?

  14. Peter says:

    @Andrew Morton

    1. certainly Adobe has governance over SWF, I’ll give you that one – you can however freely use the SWF standard, extend it and create your own SWF playback mechanism, not exactly closed and proprietary.

    2. OSP is in part a marketing effort but has real consequences, by aligning these partners (from chip manufacturers to content providers) its a lot easier to get the Flash Player on these devices.

    3. you’re missing the point there, its an ECMAScript virtual machine and AFAIK still on the roadmap to be integrated for Firefox

    Surely you don’t think the average end user knows about different web formats and what gets supported by what mobile browser? “Can I browse on the Internet” is their question and what the definition of “the Internet” is varies from person to person.

    I can’t get my head around the wild opposition of some against allowing Adobe to develop a plug-in that users could choose to install if they so wish.

  15. lol Andrew, are you furthering your argument by slandering the fact that I run SWF banners on my site? Yeah that’s highly unusual. And I sell things from my site too. Ground braking stuff mate. Whatever next? Maybe you’ve spotted a typo you’d like to point out?

  16. Andrew Morton says:


    1. Sure, in the very same way I can extend ASCII to include Klingon alphabet or define bytes that are 13 bits wide. If the SWf can be extended but the player can’t because is closed, what’s the point? Sure I can develop my own player but then I can develop even my own data file format. I’m not interested in Flash becoming open source or what else, but let’s stop adding the adjective “open” to SWF or Flash Player, because they are not.

    2. It looks to me that participants to OSP are basically the same ones that originally deployed FlashLite 1.x stuff. Sure, a few more have been added, but I don’t see anything more than a new nice logo and some PR stuff. Any word about Flash fragmentation on devices? There will be devices with FP 10.1 and devices with FL4 (with significant numbers only in about a couple of years, before that you still have a plethora of FL 2.x, 3.0, 3.1……), as you can see the same experience cannot be guaranteed even by Adobe itself. I downloaded a few of the apps done with the Package-To-iPhone Flash CS5 thing, ultra simple games, tiny little quasi static graphic, pathetic applications/games at best because anything slightly more complex will choke the device. Considering that these apps are even compiled to native code and not interpreted, are we completely sure that Apple is not right about not allowing Flash in iPhone? Still, reading from Adobe blogs, the problem is the iPhone which do not have “enough power to run Flash”, it is never “Flash requires too much power to run even simple content”

    3. I know what you are talking about. If not mistaken, Tamarin was released over two years ago and according to Wikipedia:

    “There were plans to use Tamarin as part of Mozilla 2 (and therefore Firefox). The project to integrate Tamarin and SpiderMonkey was called “ActionMonkey”, but was canceled in 2008. Tamarin continues to be used in Adobe Flash Player, but it hasn’t replaced SpiderMonkey as the JavaScript engine of Mozilla applications. The only part of Tamarin used in modern Mozilla applications (e.g. Firefox 3.5+) via SpiderMonkey is NanoJIT, a module that’s used to generate native code when performing just-in-time compilation.”

    In your last affirmation, if I buy a advice that claim to give me full web access but then I realize it doesn’t, don’t you think I will return it/changed it and spread the word to others? General users are not that stupid or unaware.

    Adobe can develop what they want, but if they want to deploy it they have to play with exactly the same rules as any other developer. I don’t see any problem with that.

    Adobe is always wining about something they are not allowed to do: one day is native access, another one is plugin deployment, it is never their faults. I’d like to ask why VCL, which is an open source video player project and do not have access to the hardware decoder as well, is able to play video at full screen using just 12% of system resources while the very same video in Flash chokes my Mac?

  17. Andrew Morton says:

    No mate, if you are happy to play with your crap, as you called it, nobody will have an issue.

  18. I’m not going to get in a big, pointless argument with you “Andrew” (if that’s your real name), but you really just sound like a bitter little simple minded man with issues much larger than the Flash Platform. You sound like a little baby who lost his rattle. Obviously I don’t know you, I’m just telling you how you are coming across on here. If you don’t like Flash, then you have plenty of options to disable it and uninstall it. Just do that and move on with your life. Why are you using up so much energy and time on this? Go develop whatever you like to develop and let Flash Platform developers do the same. Oh, and speaking of that, I don’t know a single Flash Platform developer that doesn’t work with several other tools and languages. In the end, you have to choose the right technology for the task at hand. Sometimes it’s js, sometimes it’s php, sometimes it’s .net and yes, sometimes it’s Flash.

    Grow up.

  19. John Dowdell says:

    Some quick notes…

    Adobe does have governance over SWF in terms of code-committers for the main-distro. This isn’t unusual — “HTML5” has had one-person governance (although W3C is changing that)… WebKit committers are Apple-controlled (Adobe can’t commit codechanges, eg), and of course Apple controls Safari distributions. It’s arguable which process integrates a wider array of viewpoints, needs.

    The Open Screen Project is an industry consortium… not as many academics as W3C, but a more diverse range of partners than WhatWG.

    For the difference in desktop video and in-browser video, see Mike Melanson yesterday:

    (btw, “wining” means we’re drinking…. 😉


  20. Uh oh:

    “No Flash
    No Flash is annoying but not a dealbreaker on the iPhone and iPod Touch. On something that’s supposed to be closer to a netbook or laptop? It will leave huge, gaping holes in websites. I hope you don’t care about streaming video! God knows not many casual internet users do. Oh wait, nevermind, they all do.”

  21. Andrew Morton says:

    No worries Jason, but since you claim to be a wiser person than me, I just like to point out that you moved the argument from Flash to a personal attack on me, generally it is a tactic from people that have no arguments, simple or complex ones. Whatever I say is not going to disturb you nor any other Flash developer, don’t worry, I know it very well and it wasn’t my intention to change yours or anybody else’s mind. Thanks anyway for expressing your meaningful and intelligent opinion, you can go back to your sandbox now, Flash or a real one.

    And thanks to the Adobe troll bloggler for picking up my typos, but wine is generally better than whine.

  22. John Dowdell says:

    Although Apple employees have called me “troll blogger” (why, I do not know), I enjoy your reference there to “troll boggler”. 😉


  23. Andrew, take it easy big guy.
    I’m pretty sure I never claimed to be a wiser person than you and I wasn’t turning it into a personal attack on you. As a matter of fact, I admitted that I don’t know you and that I was just telling you how you were coming across in these comments. And since I wasn’t turning it into a personal attack against you, that nullifies your comment about it being a “tactic from people that have no arguments.” To be completely honest with you, I keep my arguments to a minimum because, like I said before, you have to choose the right technology for the task at hand. If I went around bashing certain technologies like you’re doing, then I’d look like a real hypocrite when the day came that a project called for it (I’m sure you’d just turn that project down so you don’t have to tell me that).

    So just to reiterate:
    – Take it easy, man. Relax.
    – I never claimed to be wiser than you (just told you how you sounded).
    – I wasn’t attacking you
    – I admitted I don’t know you (you may be a great person or you may be a horse’s a$$).
    – I keep my arguments mostly to myself.
    – Choose your technology based on the task at hand.

    I love you. <- is that what you need to hear?

  24. I couldn’t agree more w/ you Peter. Excellent video demonstration of your point.

  25. oh come on Nate, you brought us back on topic. How disappointing 😉

  26. yeah Nate, pft… 😉

  27. A few quick thoughts:
    – if Apple is so darn committed to everything being open why aren’t they switching to Android or Linux (Maemo)?
    – why not include Flash capability and – like in every other browser and OS out there – enable the user to switch it off?

    IMO this is a crusade. I think Steve Jobs was turned down by a receptionist at Adobe or something.
    And yes, if not for this flaw I would buy the iPad in a heartbeat. To call it the best web browsing experience while displaying a webpage with a missing pluing icon is the ultimate prank. He is toying with his minions – and we’re gobbling it up by the spoonful 🙂

    And yes, I am also a Flash (Lite) developer frustrated by the lack of access to the most exciting mobile platform out there (although Apps will soon be possible for us underlings).

    Oh, and BTW – lighten up, donate some cash for Haiti and feel good about yourself and Steve.


  28. Matthew Fabb says:

    As a developer I personally, never saw the open web as very open, as it doesn’t matter what the W3C standards states, all the matters is how any major browser vendor renders the content. Any major company can enter the browser market and if they get enough market share, then your website needs to be optimized for their browser.

    So the choice seems to be between one vendor for plugins or multiple vendors for browsers.

    Meanwhile, I also see that plugins, not just Macromedia/Adobe with Flash, have really extended the web and have done it a lot quicker than any standards. I think there’s a place for Java, Unity3D, Silverlight, Google Gears and anything else that can fill in a gap that HTML isn’t. Almost a test lab for new functionality that can later be incorporated into the browser after maybe years.

  29. Stan Vassilev says:

    It’s interesting to point out how the rest of the industry is reacting to Apple’s lack of Flash in their mobile products (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).

    We’re not seeing anyone but Adobe protest, we instead see those sites come out with Flash-less versions of their content. Be it by HTML5 versions, or apps.

    This should give Adobe a clear picture of what their bargaining position is. And while as a Flash developer I’m upset Flash may enter into a decline as a result, our opinion, or just that of Adobe is not enough to turn the tables in their favor.

  30. This is really frustrating for all of us.Thanks for keeping update to us.It’s interesting to see how the rest of the industry is reacting to Apple’s lack of Flash in their mobile products (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).

  31. Michael says:

    I found a fun piece of code for iPad. It is an example of how to swap a Flash SWF with an image if your user agent is an iPad.

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