Final days for Adobe Flash
By Digital News Asia August 16, 2016
- Chrome blocks Flash-based tracking, cookies
- Chrome, Firefox and Edge switch to HTML 5
GOOGLE is determined to accelerate the demise of Flash. Last year, the company's Chrome browser blocked all Flash content that is not critical to the display of content on the website. Flash content, such as ads or auto-playing videos on non-video websites, were automatically paused by default. Embedded video players on sites like YouTube and Vimeo still worked.
The next version of Chrome, due out early next month, will automatically block non-visible Flash content, such as tracking and fingerprint cookies. Then, in December, Flash will be deprecated entirely, with exceptions for sites which only support Flash. All Flash functions will be replaced by HTML 5.
The modifications to the next version of Chrome are targeted at the background server functions that use Flash such as analytics. Google thinks that most websites will not be affected as they are already in the process of moving to HTML 5.
Google is hardly being arbitrary in its actions. Mozilla Firefox also did the same recently. The key difference is that HTML5 will be made the "default experience," in Chrome except when the site only supports Flash. When you do visit such a site, Chrome will ask you if you want to enable Flash.
Microsoft also did the same with its Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Microsoft's Edge browser now has 'click to play' for non-critical Flash content. When Google had initially proposed the restrictions on Flash, they had also announced a 'whitelist' of websites where Flash would be active by default. This was meant to ease user hassles. With the new announcement, it is not clear if the whitelist will still remain in place.
The debate between Flash and HTML 5 has been raging for some time now. HTML 5 natively supports on demand and live video streaming sources. Adobe Flash, on the other hand, has been the only way to let rich audio and video content run on the web for more than a decade.
The HTML 5 technology comes from the open source sector of HTML. Its biggest advantage is in the mobile space as device providers have opted for HTML 5 as the future. This is based on the assumption that HTML 5 is easier on battery life compared to Flash.
For a comparison between the two technologies using just YouTube, see this video.
Then there is the question of compatibility. Flash has many different versions of the Flash player. This is because maintaining compatibility with older operating systems while extending support to new ones is a very tricky process.
That said, not everything is rosy for HTML 5. Being a new technology, it is still not universally supported. But it is now clear that the future definitely belongs to HTML 5. The days of Adobe Flash are certainly numbered.
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