As most of you who visit here know, I love Flash. Pretty much always have (Flash 3 baby! I ditched Director as quickly as I could.). Sure, we’ve had our differences on and off again over the years, but overall, I continue to be a strong advocates for the technology and love to use it whenever I can on projects for myself and clients. Many of you are probably also are aware that I am also an Apple geek. I have owned over a half dozen Macs myself, and used them long before I was able to get my parents to finally pick one up for me at the end of high school.
Usually, this works out well together. Adobe/Macromedia software pretty much always runs on Apple hardware, with only a few exceptions. A big one happened a couple of years ago with the advent of the iPhone. Here I was, lusting over the phone, but a little heartbroken that the “real internet” as they put it in the first ads for the phone would be missing a key component, Flash. I bought the phone, and yes, at first, I did miss not having Flash on the mobile Safari browser packaged with the phone. More than a little.
Tease after tease, rumor after rumor, here we are, two years later, two major hardware and software revisions later, and still no Flash on the iPhone. The desire to actually have the plugin on the phone, though, at least for me has greatly waned. I’ve simply moved on. It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome it, but with YouTube encoding the videos in H.264 and a lot of other sites out there doing the same, it’s less important to me. Furthermore, many sites have mobile optimized versions of the site available for iPhone users, so browsing the “real internet” isn’t really relevant as an argument anymore. When you add the app store and all the specialized apps for viewing box scores, Twitter, Facebook and the rest, I actually find myself opening Safari less and less with each passing month as an iPhone user.
Beyond the adaptations that content producers have gone through to make their experiences better on the iPhone, there are just as many things that haven’t been “optimized” for the iPhone actually makes the experience even better. In two years surfing using mobile safari, I have yet to be harassed by an annoying Flash banner ad or crazy iframe popover atrocity. That’s nice, if you ask me!
Now, on the flipside, I as a content producer would love to be able to bring some of my creations to the best small screen platform out there, the iPod Touch/iPhone combo. Of course challenges like multitouch, and lack of a hover state for UI feedback among others would need to be worked out. Who wouldn’t love to hack together some sort of GeoLocational Augmented Reality Papervision freak out awesomeness? With the addition or accelorometers, compass, live Google maps and so many other nice things that phone has to offer, building Flash on the phone would be a ton of fun…
But then again, we’d get so many ad banners. I don’t know about you, but when you sometimes have little control over your mobile bandwidth (eg. dropping to Edge, getting fewer bars than 3, etc), I’m not too keen on giving up those precious bits to some video banner being crammed down my narrow little pipe.
The sheer amount of fun stuff built in Flash would add a ton of great content to the phone, from casual games, to chat apps or even Acrobat Connect. It’s very likely that the App store is the reason that we don’t have Flash, think about how many $0.99 apps would be obsoleted the instant that Flash hit the phone. That is a lot of income that Apple would lose. This is all but obvious, and widely discussed amongst the Apple and Adobe faithful alike.
What are your thoughts? Miss Flash? Not so much? Why is it on virtually every other major mobile platform, but not iPhone? What would you build in Flash for the iPhone that would be a perfect blend of the hardware’s capabilities and the software’s strengths?