The drama surrounding Apple's refusal to support Flash on the iPhone and iPod (and soon, iPad) has been long and acrimonious. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has made a series of caustic comments about Flash and its corporate developers, calling Adobe "lazy" and Flash a "CPU hog." Now, however, a Flash developer has weighed in with an alternate - and intriguingly simple - explanation for the banishment of Flash: namely, the lack of a mouse pointer on a touchscreen.
Morgan Adams, an interactive content developer, wrote a note to Dan Dilger, who has been doing a series of video blogs on his RoughlyDrafted site debunking what he calls the "ten myths of Apple's iPad," such as "It’s just a big iPod touch," and "It needs cameras." Adams wrote in response to his myth #2: "it needs Flash." Dilger redid his videoblog on that point, incorporating what this Flash developer had to say.
His argument was this: beyond all the complaints about speed and security, there is one fatal flaw with Flash on the iPhone's touchscreen: Flash animations need a mouse pointer - and an interface that can distinguish between hovering and actual clicking - to function normally. Hulu's Flash player is held up as an example of the difference: hovering the mouse pointer of the bottom of the screen brings up the controller, while clicking is for pause/resume.
The practical rejoinder is that workarounds could be created for touchscreen Flash players, but Adams details numerous such solutions and finds them all wanting.
- "every Flash app on every site is re-thought by its designers and re-coded by its programmers (if they’re even still available), just for touchscreens:" either removing mouseovers altogether, or making "touchscreen/non-touchscreen" versions of each bit of content, and Adams safely predicts that is not going to happen
- "Gestures, finger gymnastics or extra physical buttons are created that simulate mouseover:" which Adams dismisses as "absurd" and a violation of good user interface design
- "requiring a double-tap or two-finger tap before anything is registered:" confusing, and doesn't allow for movement: dragging vs. a moving mouseover.
- "have a visible mouse pointer near your finger, and not interact with things directly:" again, confusing, requiring the user to distinguish between "direct touch mode" or “drag the arrow” mode on different parts of the screen
- "Require extra force for a “real” tap:" Adams calls this option "non-intuitive, cramp-inducing, and easy for the user to get wrong."
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2xrAAhAsDw&feature=player_embedded]YouTube - Ten Myths of Apple's iPad: 2. It needs Flash[/ame]