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Android Cellphones Handhelds Media

Flash On Android Is 'Shockingly Bad' 657

Posted by timothy
from the not-so-flash dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Ryan Lawler writes on GigaOm that although many have touted the availability of Flash on Android devices as a competitive advantage over Apple's mobile devices, while trying to watch videos from ABC.com, Fox.com and Metacafe using Flash 10.1 on a Nexus One over a local Wi-Fi network connected to a 25-Mbps Verizon FiOS broadband connection, mobile expert Kevin Tofel found that videos were slow to load, if they loaded at all, leading to an overall very inconsistent experience while using his Android device for video. 'While in theory Flash video might be a competitive advantage for Android users, in practice it's difficult to imagine anyone actually trying to watch non-optimized web video on an Android handset,' writes Lawler. 'All of which makes one believe that maybe Steve Jobs was right to eschew Flash in lieu of HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad.'"
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Flash On Android Is 'Shockingly Bad'

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  • Breaking news! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:01PM (#33457844)

    Flash on any platform is shockingly bad.

  • Silly (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:03PM (#33457860)

    There are other things you can do with flash than just watch videos.

  • Really? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lawnboy5-O (772026) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:03PM (#33457870)
    Is this really a shocking surprise? I don't mean to troll, but flash has brought us a lot of positives, but it runs so - so just about everywhere in my experiences.
  • Choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bloosh (649755) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:03PM (#33457878)

    At least Android users have the choice to install and view Flash content if they choose. iPhone users aren't allowed that choice.

    I have Flash installed on my Moto Droid and have found performance quite lacking as well.

  • Or perhaps.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oraclese (1039520) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:05PM (#33457906)
    "All of which makes one believe that maybe Steve Jobs was right to eschew Flash in lieu of HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad." Or perhaps this just means this is the first iteration of the Android OS to attempt Flash compatibility and it obviously needs more time to mature? I hate flash as much as the next guy, but with as much content as there is out there that is based on Flash, if Android gets it working properly, it will be a big advantage over the iPhone OS.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:06PM (#33457922) Journal

    ...really? I'd rather have the option than not, but I guess that's why I don't buy iStuff anymore.

  • by Superken7 (893292) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:08PM (#33457948) Journal

    I have been watching video without any issues from several sites, plus flash is not only video.

    Its the OPTION of having flash that makes it so great. If you don't like it, don't use it. But you cannot negate the fact that many users actually enjoy it. Period.

    "All of which makes one believe that maybe Steve Jobs was right to eschew Flash in lieu of HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad.""

    You make it sound as if both were mutually exclusive. Maybe that was what Steve wanted you to believe and you bought into it? Wake up, Android DOES support HTML5 as well as the iphone, while having much better javascript performance - crucial for HTML5 stuff.

    I am surprised such a gross simplified statement made it into slashdot. Yeah, I must be new here...

  • Re:Choice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:09PM (#33457972)

    why add support for something that's going to cause a bad user experience?

  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:10PM (#33457984) Homepage

    Problem is, it's not up to Android to get it working correctly, it's up to Adobe, and they've had YEARS to get it working on mobile platforms.

  • Re:Silly (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:13PM (#33458036)

    There are other things you can do with flash than just watch videos.

    There are other things you can do with a spoon besides eat soup, for instance, you could gouge your eyes out with it.

  • by imthesponge (621107) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:15PM (#33458058)

    Better to have "bad" Flash than nothing at all.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:16PM (#33458078) Journal

    You got that right.

    "The Bones episode seemed more like a slideshow when viewed on the Android," read the article. What a coincidence! It looks the same way on my Pentium 4 desktop. My G5 PowerPC Mac has similar slide-like qualities when viewing syfy.com. Flash is one of those programs that suffer from bloat and therefore run slowly on older CPUs.

    Not that HTML5 is any better. I tried to run a new "test" movie that Google created with HTML5, and it too ran like a snail.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:16PM (#33458084)

    What we have here is a new phone platform that provides a very common and desired feature the IPhone will never have according to their lord and savior Jesus....I mean Steve Jobs.....therefore this uninformed writer feels Steve was right because it doesn't work flawlessly?!?! Wow what if we were to say that about all technology on new platforms?? Totally insightful there buddy!!!

  • Re:umm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by oraclese (1039520) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:17PM (#33458086)
    When playing Youtube videos, are you sure they are flash, or HTML5? I have Android 2.1 on my Samsung Galaxy S, and YouTube works without the ability to install a flash player. Forgive my ignorance if I'm missing something ;p
  • HTC Incredible (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrugCheese (266151) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:17PM (#33458092)

    Always worked fine for me. Including several flash games off websites I've wanted to waste a little time on. Maybe this guy needs a better provider if his videos load to slow. Reminds me of all the people who bought new computers in the late 90's early 00's only to complain that it was 'just as slow downloading stuff as the old one'.

  • Re:Choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SETIGuy (33768) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#33458176) Homepage
    Add what support? Android doesn't "support" flash, it allows the user the option to install it. Likewise, Apple doesn't remove support for flash, it removes the option to install flash.
  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#33458180)

    "Its the OPTION of having flash that makes it so great. If you don't like it, don't use it. But you cannot negate the fact that many users actually enjoy it. Period."

    I would say the downside of this is that it allows web developers to be lazy. It's harder to move beyond Flash when Flash is still supported everywhere, even though it's supported very poorly.

    It's the same thing that kept IE's stranglehold around for so long, especially when IE was on the Mac, so there wasn't even a cross platform argument.

    When Apple decided not to include Flash on iDevices, Flash became no longer a standard, and started a move towards HTML5.

  • by DdJ (10790) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:26PM (#33458232) Homepage Journal

    I never thought it'd be any good for most video.

    How is it for non-video? Games? Simple non-video animations like StrongBad? Very simple video like the Zero Punctuation stuff?

    (Full disclosure: today, I happen to be an iOS user and am content with the lack of Flash right now -- I usually disable it on my desktop too -- but I'm interested in how this all plays out, and willing to be persuaded.)

  • by Victor Liu (645343) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:37PM (#33458350) Homepage
    Yes, none is better. I'd rather not be given an option if I don't really like either. Furthermore, if you accidentally click on a link with Flash content, your browser may slow to a crawl.
  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by michrech (468134) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:37PM (#33458354)

    The choice itself is the better choice. I'd MUCH rather have the choice.

  • Re:Meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MindDelay (675385) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:38PM (#33458358)

    So instead of getting a consistent web experience you're basically deciding to play russian roulette with Flash content?

    Brilliant.

    It just works.

    Except when the fucking browser crashes.

    What a ridiculous comment. All he's saying is you can disable it by default and browse the web as you would normally, with the option to play flash content if you want. All flash content is russian roulette, no matter what platform you use. What does it matter if it's on your phone or not? No matter what you're getting a consistent web experience.

  • by Invid72 (1638287) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:38PM (#33458360)

    I'd rather not have the option myself. Having Flash available is a disincentive to creating a better HTML5 experience suitable for mobile devices. With Flash available, mobile site developers can just create their sites and call it a day, regardless of how poor the experience is.

    Not having the fallback means that you have no alternative but to create suitable code in order to reach mobile users. Since Flash for whatever reason already encourages lazy development, it would be better that the option didn't exist at all.

    Jobs' obstinance, coupled with iOS marketshare will lead to a better mobile browsing experience for all of us, at least that's my take.

  • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:41PM (#33458402)

    Games can be pretty lackluster, might as well never install one again.
    Beer, some taste worse than others so nix that.
    Ahh, since sex might end up being bad from time to time, you should probably abstain.
    Food, yep, some sucks as well, you should probably not eat anymore.

    Ya, you're right, choice sucks when you might get something not 100% perfect. It's always better to ask someone else to spoon feed you what you should like. Makes life so much better!

  • Re:car analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Artifex (18308) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:46PM (#33458494) Journal

    I'll take limp home mode over being stranded 100 miles from civilization, any day of the week.

    A better car analogy would be having to drive your car in hot weather without air conditioning vs. being able to turn on air conditioning at the cost of your car abruptly slowing to 5 miles an hour. And then having the brakes start pumping themselves.

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:53PM (#33458600)
    Because the users want it.
  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tharsman (1364603) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:58PM (#33458652)

    "All of which makes one believe that maybe Steve Jobs was right to eschew Flash in lieu of HTML5 on the iPhone and iPad." Or perhaps this just means this is the first iteration of the Android OS to attempt Flash compatibility and it obviously needs more time to mature?

    Up to you if you want to believe him, but Steve Jobs has said time and time again that the reason there is no Flash on the iPhone is because Adobe has failed to deliver something that performs remotely acceptably. Again, up to you to believe it but the fact that after all the years they had to make a "light mobile friendly" flash version, you can't really claim this is a first gen and forgive it. They supposedly have been working on mobile versions of Flash since before they started whining publicly about Apple not letting them put whatever they had ready out there.

    I hate flash as much as the next guy, but with as much content as there is out there that is based on Flash, if Android gets it working properly, it will be a big advantage over the iPhone OS.

    There are few things that make me want to run Flash in my iPad/iPhone. TV shows in YouTube are one (right now you get user uploads but not actual tv shows.) Blip.tv is another one I hope eventually adapts to the iOS so I can watch Nostalgia Critic on my iPad.

    There are a lot of Flash games out there but all require PC input and will never work on a touch device.

    I already got Netflix so that no longer is an issue. Hulu is there too.

    Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything else that makes me miss Flash on my iPad. Ads are missing in many sites but that's not really a negative.

    Most people have not converted many media playback sites to HTML5 because, for all purposes, they have to reinvent the wheel. Make a new HTML5 based player that can pause movies and insert ads without the viewer skipping them. Many of these are people that just grabbed a stock flash template and embedded it on their sites to play back their media. That kind of thing will eventually be made in HTML5, very likely as open source. At that point I will see the adoption of HTML5 playback to start taking off big time.

  • by DrYak (748999) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:59PM (#33458662) Homepage

    The most CPU power consuming part in watching episodes is the playing of the video it self.
    And most modern machines (be it desktop with their graphic card or embed device with their SIMD & GPU units) *DO HAVE* hardware acceleration for most modern formats (that's what they use for video in HTML5. Or *should use* if the demo runs like a snail)

    So if watching an episode is like a slideshow on these machines, it's a situation of :
    - In the case of the Pentium 4 - no hardware acceleration being available (move to a Radeon HD 4670, they are available on AGP bus and *DO* feature H.264 acceleration, older AGP GPU may lack it)
    - Hardware acceleration not taken advantage of (if this version of Flash is 100% pure ARM, and doesn't leverage the Neon SIMD extension, nor the embed GPU - Usually some PowerVR) - that would probably be moronic since there's lots of SIMD+GPU code floating around that could be harnessed for an Android Flash.
    - Unsupported video format (there's SIMD+GPU code available for H264, older MPEG4 and other MPEGs, even for Theora, and soon WebM - But I don't know if there's for the older Flash Video codecs like VP6). In this case HTML5 won't save you either (or at least until HTML5 explicitly requires a specific codec, like WebM)
    - Pure sloppy programming - if the rest of the Flash implementation is completely b0rked, no hardware accelerated magic can save the situation.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NatasRevol (731260) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:09PM (#33458794) Journal

    Well, with Flash on an older machine, you can't post or comment!

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:19PM (#33458912) Homepage

    Me, too, to a point. But if iOS user's lack of Flash causes more web developers to embrace non-crappy standards, I'm okay with that.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:27PM (#33459006) Homepage Journal

    But logic went out the door when it was easier just to bash Apple for not having it. But now that other players are having the same problems except in this case its directly effecting their users, perhaps its the last nail, finally.

    I for one hate flash for this very reason ( well, that and security reasons ). If it could be cleaned up, great, but as it is implemented now its terrible.

  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by topham (32406) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:47PM (#33459268) Homepage

    I think it's a fools game to pursue Flash on mobile. I think Adobe spent the majority of it's time putzing around with Flash on mobile instead of making it work. I also think they should have created a Flash Mobile flag to indicate if Flash was compatible with a mobile device. The it should otherwise be 100% Flash compatible, but have checks and balances for properly supporting a mobile device.

    1 - flag for touched based interface.
    2 - flag for bandwidth requirements.

    etc.

    Then, if Flash content didn't meet those requirements the user would be notified of such. It would create an incentive for the sites to update their Flash projects to be compatible.

    But Adobe is too stupid to take the right approach. They think Flash on mobile is -EXCELLENT- and that the rest of the issues aren't their problem.

    Here's a general hint: Video mostly works, and the vast majority of Ads work. They don't give a shit about anything else.

  • Re:Skyfire (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:52PM (#33459320) Journal

    Uhhh...how exactly do you know it wasn't a problem? did they take measurements to make sure that there wasn't intermittent interference? Because I have set up quite a few Wifi systems for home users and intermittent interference can be a royal bitch sometimes. Unless he was out in the boondocks there are signals bouncing all over the damned place and a system that works good five minutes ago can be total shit now. Hell in just my apt I'm looking at about a dozen different Wifi routers bouncing signals in here of various strengths.

    So unless they did seriously testing like Consumer Reports does I'd take anything they say regarding wifi with a grain of salt. In today's wireless enabled world the amount of interference you can get can really screw your day.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:56PM (#33459356)
    Except that he's not maintaining market share. In recent months he's been losing ground to Android mobiles which don't come with all the restrictions that the various iPhones do. I rooted my Nexus One yesterday, and apart from being informed that doing so would void my warranty, the whole process was painless. And really, I can't blame Google for voiding the warranty, if I'm going to introduce software which they can't protect me against, it's only fair that I'm on my own. And at least they made it crystal clear while I could still turn back.

    One of the things which killed Mac marketshare was the closedness of things. With the IBM compatible computers you could do anything the hardware could handle, with the Macs you were much more limited in what you could do, and if Apple didn't bless a hardware bit, it probably wasn't going to be available at all. Admittedly there were other mistakes, like the high cost and the terrible clones, but the closedness of things definitely hurt them.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:12PM (#33460082)

    google and apple.

    Apple wants to have complete control over all the devices you buy, locking you into their ecosystem.

    Google wants to give you choice.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk (813939) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:22PM (#33460170)
    and so they should be bashed. It wasn't that they don't specifically push flash, flash is shit after all, it is the fact that they actively block a user from having flash. HAting flash for all its shitiness is fine, but dictating to a user they are not allowed to have there shitty preference because Apple deem they know better is bullshit.

    After all we don't see Apple blocking quicktime despite it being almost as god aweful as flash
  • Logic? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:44PM (#33460826) Homepage

    Sorry, but you're wrong, and so is Apple. No users are directly "effected" unless they choose to be. By your same "logic", any baby that's not ideal for every possible use should be thrown out with the bathwater, and users should be prevented from having anything to do with those terrible things whether they want it or not.

    Sure, Flash sucks for some videos - and it's fine for others. A lot of Flash games don't play well on a mobile device - but some do. Flash ads are annoying - but Flash animations like Homestar Runner are awesome, work great, and I can pick and choose when & what Flash I see. If HTML5 was a valid alternative right now, you might have a point, but it isn't, and won't ever be an alternative for all the existing flash sites out there.

    The fact that this argument is still on-going shows that there is still much demand for Flash. Apple can choose to exclude those customers if it wants, you can buy into that if you want, but I for one am very very glad that Android is a viable alternative that gives me the choice of HTML5 and Flash.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:14PM (#33461022)

    More like rendered at 24fps (http://www.spscriptorium.com/SPinfo/MakingOfSouthPark.htm) and viewed at 30. But don't let that get in the way...

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mldi (1598123) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:38AM (#33461688)
    It's called deep linking. But that would require very light research to find that out, or any real experience in using flash. Oh wait, the same thing has to be done with javascript-based applications too (like Gmail).

    If there isn't any deep linking, it's the developer's fault. If you are dissing flash for that, then you have to diss anything javascript-based as well.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mldi (1598123) on Friday September 03, 2010 @01:12AM (#33461824)
    Deep linking isn't tied to AJAX, it's just a concept, and since Javascript is able to read the URL, it can do whatever the damn hell it wants to based on that, AJAX or no AJAX. Deep linking concepts have been available to Flash for a long while now. If Flash apps don't include that feature now or any time in the somewhat recent past, that's no reason to hate on Flash. That's a reason to hate on the people developing for it.

    And I'd also prefer that a single company not dictate the language of web content, thanks.

    So then let users choose what they want to see and publishers will soon follow. That shouldn't be up to one man (Jobs). I'm with you that I don't want a single company to dictate all that, but in order to do that variety is key. People won't view Flash if they really don't want to.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday September 03, 2010 @03:34AM (#33462376)

    In Firefox. Currently it has completely pegged one of my cores, and has some birds flying around with a very jerky frame rate. Nothing else seems to be happening. So with a little bit of animation it can being FF to its knees. I don't know if it is supposed to be doing anything else, but Flash could do the bird thing easily, without slowing the browser down (other tabs are dog slow currently as FF uses only one core).

    Now I know, I know, this was made for Chrome. Even warned me. Guess what? That is NOT a point in HTML5's favour. If things only work well on one browser that helps nothing. Firefox is a major in the browser market, only IE might have more marketshare (and FF may have overtaken it, haven't checked). So on the major browser this little thing can't even run at a good speed? On a fucking Core 2 Quad 2.8GHz?

    With Flash it would run well, and do so on any browser.

    Now, I'm not saying HTML 5 won't get better. I'm not saying that 5 years from now such a page won't run great on everything. What I'm saying is it doesn't NOW. HTML 5 is not ready for prime time in any way shape or form.

    First all the major browsers need to support it well. By that I mean implement the features and be able to run it fast. It needs to be something that doesn't only work on certain browsers or slow things down badly and so on.

    Next there needs to be good development tools. If you've ever actually used Flash, as in the actual Flash program not Flash Player, that's what I mean. Something that can design animation and interactive content easily and graphically. Writing lots of markup is not an acceptable method.

    Only then, once browser support is good and the tools are good, should sites start transitioning to HTML 5 on a large scale. It has to be good for end users to use first, then sites can look at it.

    As it stands, Flash gets shit done. Doesn't matter if you don't like it, it works.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kno3 (1327725) on Friday September 03, 2010 @05:16AM (#33462750)
    It really is aimed at the slightly more tech inclined than, say, a typical iPhone user. You cirtainly don't have to be a genius to use it. In fact, I think the interface is more intuitive than an iPhone. But it gives you a lot of power. Like you can multi-task, and have as many crazy apps open as you like. Of course that means that it will slow down, but as long as you realise that having loads of apps open is going to slow it down, you will be fine. Same with loads of widgets, etc. If you like linux, and hacking, then this phone offers hacking capabilities that no other phone comes anywhere near to. But you don't have to do that.
    Nokia have been a bit callas with it however. Like it doesn't work with their Ovi store, and getting it to work with the old PC suite is tricky, and there are only a few functions that work. Lack of OOTB MMS support was pretty stupid as well. Luckily most of these problems have been solved by the community, but you need to know where to look. Most reviewers wont bother to go exploring maemo.org to realise the phones potential.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GreyLurk (35139) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:04AM (#33464840) Homepage Journal

    I consistently have h264 html5 video hard crash my system (BSOD) while Flash videos have yet to do so. Just another reference point.

    By the by, I tried to link to this drawing I made in a HTML5 app, to explain my point, but I guess that HTML5 was designed before people thought up "Linking" on the internet, so it's not possible. Sorry. You'll have to draw one yourself. http://bomomo.com/ [bomomo.com]

    I would have used one of Apple's HTML5 demos, but Unfortunately I'm using a Webkit based browser that wasn't made by them, so the cross-platform HTML5 doesn't work.

    HTML5 and Flash address different problems. There's some crossover (un-DRMed video, Vector 2d Graphics), but overall, they're generally very different.

  • by MistrBlank (1183469) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:20AM (#33465022)

    What choice? Google has kill switches to kill apps as we've already seen. Most Android users I know have had to root their device to install many things on their device, an operation whose purpose is similar to jailbreaking an iPhone.

    I'm tired of the Google soapbox, their pool is no better than the Apple pool.

  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Americano (920576) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:22AM (#33465042)

    Who's telling you you're not free to choose? Was there an iPhone that did support Flash, but which they revoked your rights to run Flash on? Was there an iPad that did that? Did they sucker you into buying a device by telling you it would run flash, and then shout "HA HA GOTCHA SUCKER!" after you bought it?

    Your choice, when it comes to Flash, is to either buy a device that supports it, or to buy a device that doesn't support it.

    When you buy a car, the manufacturer "takes away your choice" to move the car pedals like a bicycle... so if you value foot-pedals, you probably don't want a car as your mode of transport.

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