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Flash On Android Is 'Shockingly Bad' 657

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, 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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  • Re:car analogy (Score:1, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:07PM (#33457934)

    So not having Flash is the same as being stranded 100 miles from home.

    I've been stranded a 100 miles from home and I'll tell you, I don't get the same feeling from no flash on my iPhone as I did from that.

  • by Itchyeyes ( 908311 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:08PM (#33457950) Homepage

    This has been my experience as well with my Droid. I realize that the droid is a bit slower than other Android phones, but I hadn't had any trouble with watching HTML5 video on it, so I expected similar results with Flash. I was wrong. The few times I did get it to play, after let the player buffer for several minutes (on WiFi) it played in the single digit frame rates. I uninstalled it after a few days, as sites that had HTML5 video available still defaulted to Flash if they detected it. Having access to HTML5 video on only a portion of sites is preferable to me to having Flash for Android available on all sites. That should say something about just how bad it is.

  • umm (Score:2, Informative)

    by ak_hepcat ( 468765 ) <{leif} {at} {}> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:10PM (#33457992) Homepage Journal

    My HTC NexusOne with flash 10.1 works fine. I haven't found a youtube video that won't play on it.
    I haven't tried many flash games, because i haven't had a need to.

    Even Strongbad's sbEmail's works fine. i don't notice any issues or lag or anything.

    Perhaps he should look at not only his OS, but also his hardware and his connectivity, and also his expectations.

    A phone is not a desktop. And if you don't have a physical keyboard, you're not going to be able to do certain things.

    Given all that, I still prefer Android over iOS. and my phone over any of the iPhones.

  • Re:Meh (Score:5, Informative)

    by HappyClown ( 668699 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:11PM (#33458006)
    Here's how to get the best of both worlds:

    Open the browser on your phone then select: Menu -> More -> Settings -> Enable Plugins -> On Demand.

    That means Flash is disabled by default and a placeholder will be displayed instead, but you just need to touch the green arrow to load and play the flash content if you want to see it. Works a treat, performance is fine, and if you really do want the content it's there with a single press.

    Having said that, I find Flash performance to be fairly acceptable for the most part on my Nexus One anyway, and having it on demand like this is much, much, much better than being told you can't have it at all.

  • Counterexample (Score:4, Informative)

    by beej ( 82035 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:37PM (#33458352) Homepage Journal

    Down in the comments for the story, someone has posted this counterexample to youtube. In it, he uses Flash to watch the video complaining about how badly Flash video works on mobile phones on his mobile phone: []

  • Re:Choice (Score:4, Informative)

    by Superken7 ( 893292 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:40PM (#33458388) Journal

    You forgot the Android way of doing things.

    3) OPTIONALLY, have flash disabled and enable it on-demand with a single tap. Best of both worlds. You are welcome.

    btw, flash on my N1 doesn't eat significantly more battery and sure as hell is not slow most of the time and doesnt heat up more than with regular video playback.

  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Informative)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:41PM (#33458396)

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

    Pretty much... flash support isn't just about being able to watch TV on your phone browser. Its about visiting a site like this on your mobile... []

    Can someone with a droid report whether this site works fine... or is it also 'shockingly bad'? iphone users don't bother... thanks to Steve you can't actually see most of the site, because the top menu is.. gasp... flash.

  • Re:Meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by HappyClown ( 668699 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:43PM (#33458428)

    Maybe you should see on-demand Flash in action, rather than make up FUD about russian roulette and browser crashes without any facts to back your statements up.

    I've been running Flash on my phone since June, viewing the Flash content I choose to on a daily basis. It's seamless enough that I hardly think about it. I've never had a browser crash from playing Flash content, there's no "roulette" involved. It does in fact "just work" (though I wouldn't go quite so far as to call it brilliant). And as a bonus, if I want to emulate an iPhone, I'm always free to uninstall Flash completely.

  • Re:Choice (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:43PM (#33458438)

    Ah, but without a device that forces designers to accommodate "no flash," you'll NEVER have another alternative.

    You should be thanking steve jobs, not lambasting him.

  • by beej ( 82035 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:46PM (#33458488) Homepage Journal

    It's pretty good for non-video. Depends on exactly what you try to force it to do, of course. But Strongbad is no problem. Dig around youtube and you can find Strongbad playing on the iPad under Frash, or Zero Punctuation playing under Android.

  • Re:Choice (Score:2, Informative)

    by KnightBlade ( 1074408 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @06:46PM (#33458492)
    You can have your browser not fetch flash and thus circumvent that problem. You can enable it for sites and even better specific content that you need. It's not a always on solution. But it helps at times. And in my experience, websites like kongregate work just fine. IMO, the mistake that people make is to think of flash on mobile devices the same way as they think of flash on their computers. I'm not defending flash or how bad it's implementation is, esp. on linux, but it's not as bad as people make it sound if you understand it's advantages and stick to those.
  • by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:10PM (#33458802)
    Works fine. The big thing is that they, for some insane reason, didn't hook up a software keyboard to it. So you often wind up somewhat limited if you don't have a hardware keyboard. Still, a fair number of games only need the arrow keys, and the optical sensor at least works with that. I've played a few flash games with that, and they work fine. And plants versus zombies plays fine, thankfully.
  • Re:Choice (Score:3, Informative)

    by PhreakOfTime ( 588141 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:20PM (#33458924) Homepage

    Based on most reports, its doesn't sound like Flash is watchable on Android. It might be more accurate to just say "At least Android users have the choice to install Flash if they choose" and leave the playing content part off.

    Most reports?

    Flash works just fine on my Motorolla Android. Sites I've watched full length movies/videos

    1. Comedy Central
      PBS (they have all the twilight zone episodes online)

    This was even over the cellular network, and not a wi-fi connection. There was some skipping within the first 5s on longer videos(over 20min), and I imagine this is from the buffering going on in the background. After than, it played smooth as silk

    This linked article sounds like something that NetworkWorld would publish(garbage based on opinion/one users experience). Similar to that dig against the Droid they published last fall, claiming the battery was so horrible it only lasted a few minutes for the 'reporter' writing the piece.

  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:53PM (#33459326)

    Meh, it works good enough to watch a bit of youtube. And that's what I am using it for most: my TV guide app. can show previews of the films on TV, which I watch when I'm in the metro. I am the proud owner of a HTC hero, for which HTC was so nice to provide a Android 2.1 update for (though I might hack it to Froyo if it gets less responsive).

  • by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:38PM (#33459810)

    I've watched full episodes of South Park off the official site over WIFI and was pleasantly surprised by the performance.

    Exercise for the interested reader: Can you see any problems with judging video playback quality using a source material that's animated at around 3fps?

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

    by Superken7 ( 893292 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:00PM (#33459986) Journal

    funny thing is, according to the article they didn't get any video to play properly.

    Well guess what, I am currently watching the flash video of the article on my Nexus One. Its playing fullscreen with no problems at all.

    I HAD to TURN ON FLASH because otherwise I would NOT have been able to watch it.
    I for one am glad I had the option to do so!

    There you go

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

    by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:01PM (#33460478)

    I do not understand why the N900 is not more popular. I'd love to have one, from what I've read, yet typical reviews I've seen pan it. WTF? :-(

    Because it only has 3G on T-Mobile, America's worst 3G network.

  • Ditto (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:19PM (#33460614)

    Youtube works great on my N900.
    However, other sites do not, like the Daily Show. But of course, sometimes the Daily Show videos don't work on my PC either. Original post has some merit.

  • by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:39PM (#33460778)
    Except that Flash as a video wrapper has become far more prevalent than little games (which are also written Java, Javascript, etc). Flash is a whore for video. A Flash-wrapped H.264 eats a surprising amount of CPU time when compared to the same H.264 playing in a good media player.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:27PM (#33461102)

    I don't think bandwidth is the issue, the article says: 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

    So, that means... either the phone's WiFi is extremely flawwed and substandard, Verizon FiOS wasn't living up to its promises, OR the issue with the phone was something other than a network bottleneck.

    There could be a bottleneck in the phone's ability to use a fast connection, or a bottleneck in terms of CPU required to render that video using Flash. or an I/O bottleneck loading all that stuff into the phone's RAM and such

    But there is generally plenty of bandwidth in a WiFi environment to load a video. Otherwise, the PCs would be having issues as well (which they are not)

  • by ThinkTiM ( 532164 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:04AM (#33461320)
    Bandwidth is not the issue - the issue is CPU. h264 (HTML 5 Video) is rendered on an iPhone using hardware and works fine.
  • Re:Breaking news! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rdnetto ( 955205 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @12:54AM (#33461572)

    The N900 isn't very popular because Nokia never intended for it to be an iPhone killer. The N900 is a research device - a public prototype. This was even more true of the N8x0 (which almost no one had heard of before the N900). With each release the platform matures and gains more features.
    Speaking as an N900 owner, it is a great device that is completely open. The only time I have ever met constraints with it is when I tried to do things one would not normally do with a phone. e.g. RDP/VNC (works fine, but the high res screen is a disadvantage for this) and printing. (Also, the keyboard can be a little fiddly at first.) Most of the builtin features can be easily replaced with better performing and more functional alternatives by installing free apps from a Debian-style repository, including the kernel.
    I'd recommend against getting one right now though, since Nokia is close to releasing it's successor []. Personally, I won't be upgrading since the N900 is flexible enough to meet all my needs (and can easily be extended to do so).

  • In comparison to Flash, nobody's doing "little games" in Java. And javascript doesn't have the same level of control and portability out of the box compared to flash.

    Now, since you brought up the subject of whores, video was used by Jobs as a red herring to get people to focus on video, so he can whore h264, which he owns some patents in.

    Flash is pretty much the environment you want to use if you want to write a game that works on pcs and game consoles without having to do any special tricks.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @05:09AM (#33462514)

    H.264 pretty much covers it for smartphones: Symbian, Apple, Blackberry, Android, Palm WebOS, WinMo.

    Amongst websites that have a HTML5 alternative to Flash video, it's pretty much H.264 also. Including the most important video site: YouTube.

    On the desktop, it's pretty much just Firefox that doesn't support H.264. And there's an easy answer to that.

    There is no other serious contender.

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

    by abundance ( 888783 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @06:16AM (#33462752)

    Bitmap and canvas stuff sucks big time on webkit browsers too, especially Safari.

    The implementation is still pretty basic, you can only dream of doing most of the things you can do in Flash, and the performance isn't any better.

    It's a good thing to have such capabilities right in the browser in an open standard implementation, but there's still a looong way to go.

    Having video playback decoupled from a big and complex plugin and sent straight to decoders optimized for the platform is indeed an instant godsend for any low power device

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

    by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Friday September 03, 2010 @10:43AM (#33464572)

    Absolutely it is not. Its a dedicated video application. The application was available long before YouTube even offered HTML5.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle