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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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  • ... duh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kristopeit, M. D. (1892582) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:09PM (#33457970)
    i've been fighting this battle with idiots for the last 2 days... on a battery powered device, optimization has real world side effects... running code through an additional platform layer increases latency and response time and consumes more resources (CPU/battery). as long as the hardware and operating systems vary greatly between devices, the best solution will always be writing and compiling applications natively for each platform.
  • Re:Meh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bhcompy (1877290) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:12PM (#33458014)
    Flashblock is on most desktop browsers. And Opera will add it eventually. It's really one of the only things missing from their mobile browser, which is the best I've found for all other uses.
  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:16PM (#33458074) Homepage Journal
    Rather than waiting for an improvement I'm all for just cutting Flash out like a cancer.

    There are other things on the horizon which can (supposedly) do the job and replace Flash altogether. That's where my money will go.
    [disclosure: I have an iPhone and iPad. Flash isn't missed.]
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:24PM (#33458208) Homepage

    HTML5 depends on your browser actually. I have a Nokia N800 and I could've told you years ago that Flash on mobile devices sucks badly. HTML5 on the Mobile Firefox platform also sucks somewhat (but not as bad as Flash) but if you get a WebKit browser, it works quite spiffy for an older mobile processor.

  • Re:Silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:40PM (#33458386)

    Not really, i use my smart phone when i'm out running errands. I hate going to websites and being blocked with "requires flash" just because they chose to implement their site with crappy flash animation. I think it was well publicized that flash video was going to blow when it came to android, and I guess we're not disappointed. But it may let me order food ahead of time for pickup, check inventory & prices at store X etc. which is most of what I need.

    Video is going to be nice, but it's not something I plan on using except when I'm really, really bored. For now I have book readers.

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

    by Sark666 (756464) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:41PM (#33458406)

    Well, in this single instance, Jobs is right. Flash has got to go. With browsers, we were that close to living in a world of 'best viewed with IE'. We all have Mozilla to thank for that, so now it doesn't really make a difference what browser you use. You know, like how it was meant to be. But there's this last lingering thing....

    But anyway, even though he is technically right in this case, it's obviously a self-serving motive. It will happen though, Flash has got to go. 99% of the time I use flash it's for viewing a video. Once html5 supports that properly and efficiently, flash will be relegated to wizz-bang websites that want bling and flash games.

    Adobe makes great development tools and that's something that'll keep flash along for much longer, but again, most users use flash for video these days.

  • Re:Silly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:44PM (#33458454)

    That this guy could find a few flash demonstrations that don't play nicely with a small device is no surprise to me. With a 10 meg pipe I often see pauses and cache filling delays on my desktop machine.

    I have the same phone as this guy, and I find Flash works ok for most things, videos on web pages, ads (the few I happen to click on).

    Is it great performance? No. Do I leave it on by default, No.

    If they turned the code over to Google I am sure it could be fixed. But as long as programming is in the hands of those bloat-ware bone-heads at Adobe it will suck just as bad as every Adobe product you have ever seen. You really have to wonder what the serve in the cafeteria for EVERY product they make to be so universally terrible.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:46PM (#33458504)

    I would say the downside of this is that it allows web developers to be lazy.

    I have a fear of this. I've been watching Hulu and Netflix on my iPhone a lot lately and have been surprised to find it has been easy on the battery. A couple of hours, for example, seemed to only drop it 15%. (non-scientific eyeball estimate.) If Flash takes a good deal more resources to run, will that lead to a dramatic drop in battery life?

    My fear is the temptation to use that one format to rule them all will result in a lack of efficiency that really takes the fun out of using your phone to watch the videos in the first place. There's something to be said for tailoring an app to a portable device with limited resources. That said, though, I'd really like to hear from people using Android phones to watch Flash video. If the battery-hog thing is a non-issue, I'd like to be educated on that. I've already learned that there's a huge difference between a theoretical problem and a practical problem.

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Americano (920576) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:51PM (#33458566)

    Want to know why I don't care that I can't load flash content on my iPhone?

    Because I can't think of a single site I visit regularly that does not work just fine, and I can think of numerous occasions where Flash has crashed my browser (or I've received the "Flash has barfed!" popup) - usually from an advertisement - on both Windows and Mac OS X. That behavior prompted me to run FlashBlock in my browsers on both Windows & Mac OS, incidentally.

    While you don't like having the choice taken away, there are a lot of people for whom losing Flash isn't a big deal, or is actually a positive thing... iOS devices might not be right for you.

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

    by kno3 (1327725) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:56PM (#33458626)
    My N900 plays flash video pretty well on the standard MicroB browser. Youtube is seamless. Slightly bigger, less optimised players like megavideo can be made to work with a bit of simple overclocking. Even iPlayer works OOTB.
  • Re:Or perhaps.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Whiternoise (1408981) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:21PM (#33458934)

    It's not only Adobe, it's the website developers themselves. The benefit that Android has is that it can view websites that are flash enabled, optimised or not. If the websites are optimised then there's the potential for some really great rich content. As it stands, the problem is not necessarily that Flash is bad (even if it's bloated as hell), it's that people are trying to view websites that aren't designed for mobile screens. The difference is, when a company brings out a flash page optimised for mobile devices, Android will be able to read it and IPhone OS won't.

    People don't complain about viewing websites that aren't designed for phones because nowadays the designers have implemented a handheld version of the stylesheet. With Flash there simply hasn't been any demand for it, and as more people use Flash 10.1 on their phones, I predict that this problem should go away (mostly).

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:24PM (#33458972)

    Exactly... Now try the test on an Android 2.2 device that isn't obsolete and is actually still available for purchase.
    Such a biased test.

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:11PM (#33459538) Journal
    Jobs was wrong. Look at all the games written in flash. They don't need tons of bandwidth, and its something people want.

    Video is a red herring. Bandwidth will catch up. It always does. Or have you forgotten the bad old days of watching postage-stamp-sized video barely playing from your hard disk, and not playing at all across the net?

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SETIGuy (33768) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:53PM (#33459922) Homepage
    I think you're confused. Adobe provides Flash for Android. That means Adobe supports Flash on Android. Saying Windows supports flash is saying that Microsoft needed to make changes to Windows especially for the purpose of allowing Adobe to port flash to it. Windows doesn't support Flash. Flash supports Windows.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Redlazer (786403) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:59PM (#33459980) Homepage
    Looks and works with no problems on my N1.

    I'd prefer an HTML5 client, but I have no problems with having Flash on my phone.

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:21PM (#33460162)
    Many people consider iTunes on Windows to be an extremely bad user experience, but Apple still supports it.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trufagus (1803250) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:56PM (#33460904)

    I've seen a number of articles saying the same thing and I think it is getting ridiculous.

    Have you tried viewing a heavy HTML/CSS/JS web site on your phone recently? Did you enjoy it? After a couple of years of sites getting optimized for mobile, and in some cases, separate mobile versions being created, many websites are still unusable on my phone.

    So we are surprised that a few flash sites, selected based on unspecified criteria, totally suck?

    For comparison, here's the story of a guy who felt that the user experience of the iOS version of his sophisticated and heavy Flash application was "great" (he used Adobe's converter, before Apple nixed the idea).
    http://blog.lovelycharts.com/ [lovelycharts.com]
    Please take the time to read this - it is short. Note that I am in no way associated with this company or product. Actually I have nothing to do with Adobe and I don't even like Flash but let's knock off this silliness. Get back to me if people discover that flash sites CAN't be made to work well on phones and tablets.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3.justconnected@net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:03PM (#33460958)

    Games are even worse than video. I tried playing Curveball on a mobile device, and it wouldn't keep the game still - dragging just moved the game, not the ball. I had to tap at exactly the right spot at exactly the right time.

    Then I tried to play a puzzle game, where the spacebar reset the playing field. I didn't think that one through, obviously - it was a no go.

    I found a third random game, don't recall the name, but it made a huge distinction between hovering and clicking. No go on a touchscreen.

    So let me ask you. If I have a flash game and need to rewrite it anyways to get it to work at all, let alone well, on a mobile device - why wouldn't I just write it for that device, or cross-platform HTML5?

    All Steve Jobs has been saying is: Desktop paradigms don't work on a mobile device. That's why Apple made millions on a mobile device with a properly-thought out control scheme, and why they've done it again and again and again.

    If they allowed desktop apps natively, or with easy ports, much of the software would be terrible to use. If you don't believe me, have you tried using a VNC client to control your computer from your phone? It's virtually useless, and saved (at best) for emergencies.

    I'm not an Apple fanboy, but I'm not a complete idiot either. Jobs, for all his control-freak tendencies, makes a Titanic-sized boatload of sense, and most people agree.

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

    by Nexus7 (2919) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:14PM (#33461024)

    Because Nokia cannot market its way out of a paper bag. They actually _downplayed_ the launch of the N900; despite it being the most advanced smartphone a year ago, on a revolutionary platform (Linux with telephony extensions), and a new (for America) business model (buy your own phone, get a lower monthly fee). Not that T-Mobile is any better at marketing either. A new smartphone exclusive to their network, you'd think they might run a spot or two about it.

  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mldi (1598123) on Friday September 03, 2010 @01:33AM (#33461674)

    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.

    For video HTML5 is significantly better. For vector and bitmap animations, Flash is probably better in all non-WebKit browsers.

    For video, it really, really, really depends on the player being used (HTML5 players are dead simple). For vector and bitmap animations, Flash is leap years better in ALL browsers. Seriously. Compare javascript-driven (or canvas-driven) persistent animation in both. Flash easily takes the cake in terms of resource usage.

    Now, in regards to TFA, it's a horrible "review". The Nexus One is not exactly up to par for playing "hi-def" video, period. Furthermore, you have to take into account other hardware factors, such as very limited RAM. Saying Jobs is somehow right in restricting users' choice in the matter is completely off-base and has nothing to do with whether or not I'll be able to watch "hi-def" video on a few select sites. Flash is used for more than video for pete's sake. For every one site that works so-so because of over-use of Flash and bloated Flash applications, which is because of poor development, not necessarily a poor platform, there are a dozen other flash sites that work perfectly fine.

    On my Evo, I haven't tried ABC.com or anything like that yet, but for what I HAVE played (Jon Stewart), it seems to be fine. I've played Flash games just fine too (light-bot FTW!). And I know the new iPhones have plenty of power to do the same stuff.

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

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Friday September 03, 2010 @02:18AM (#33461838)

    There was a brilliant article in Slashdot about the platform not being the problem, but the code/coder.

    Its possible to make html 5 code which murders the system - just that right now the only people writing in html 5 known what they're doing - til now at least. Once the script-kiddies start eschewing flash for html 5 then people will want html 6 to come out and save us.

    This is like blaming html for allowing people to use animated gifs as backgrounds.

    Now I've never used flash on android, I've used flash on symbian and for videos its smooth. Flash on blackberry opening youtube was jittery and rather horrible though.

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