Flash — aa-ah!

First, let me say that I despise Adobe Flash. Animated ads using Flash are ugly, distracting, and consume great quantities of CPU and battery power. Websites that use Flash for major portions of their UI (and why, oh why, do so many restaurants do this?) are incompatible with many devices (not just iPhones), often have nonstandard user interface elements that make them difficult to use, and can interfere badly with printing and accessibility. I use the ClickToFlash extension in my web browser so that Flash appears only when I really want it to, and that’s not often.

However, comma. I have to agree with Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch when he says that Flash has been given a bum rap: “When you’re displaying content, any technology will use more power to display, versus not displaying content. If you used HTML5, for example, to display advertisements, that would use as much or more processing power than what Flash uses.” This is absolutely true. I have found that sites (and I’m looking at you, Apple) that use HTML5 to display videos have all the downsides of Flash but are, as yet, not quite so reliable… and because HTML5 support is integrated into the browser, there is as yet no equivalent of ClickToFlash to suppress those CPU-hogging, annoying, battery-gobbling videos.

As website makers increasingly switch from Flash to HTML5 to provide animated ads and other annoyances that I’m happy don’t appear on my iPhone, I’m afraid it will make my web experience worse. It would be nice if there were some way to turn this stuff off, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

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