Based on Steve Jobs’ open letter today, I can say with near-certainty that neither the iPhone nor the iPad will ever support Adobe Flash in any way, shape or form. I now know that, and it’s good to hear it clearly and directly from Apple.
But it doesn’t mean I agree with it — at least not yet. I’ve been an iPhone user for two years, and never once did I miss having Flash on that device. However, it took just two weeks with the iPad for me to miss it there. To read Steve Jobs lump both together as “mobile devices” is lazy and inaccurate (or more probably just marketing speak). The iPhone, definitely, but the iPad is more than that: it’s has the potential to be an über-portable computer and, in many ways, it already is.
Sitting on my couch, working in my office, even on the train (with a Verizon MiFi, of course), I never once missed Flash on my iPad and find its functionality works great for me in place of my laptop. However, when I took it on vacation with me and attempted to use it as my laptop replacement it failed miserably because of this one issue.
For the most part, I don’t care if I can’t see the Flash-y bells and whistles on websites. But last week on vacation my family and I had to decide where to eat dinner each night. As a family steeped in technology — and with two children whose parents don’t like to eat junk food for dinner — we’ve come to rely on being able to scope out the menu ahead of our visit to ensure everyone will find something to their liking. And on 90% of the restaurant websites we visited, Flash was required to just get to view the menu. The same was true with about half of the museum websites we attempted to visit as we planned our daily activities.
Yes, it shouldn’t be this way. Yes, these designers should be publicly flogged for their bad decisions. And, yes, in time this will change. But right now the reality is that I needed Flash to do this, and that means my iPad is crippled as a light-usage travel-replacement for my laptop.
And let’s face it, if Apple truly believed that Flash wasn’t a necessary component of our daily browsing lives they wouldn’t ship Mac OS X with the plug-in preinstalled, now would they?