Louie Mantia, a designer working at IconFactory, has a great blog where he shares this insight about why there’s no Flash on iPad: it’s the interaction model, stupid.
Take websites that are fully fleshed out in Flash. A lot of these websites require hovering a cursor over menus. In a lot of cases, clicking the menu item takes you to a certain page and hovering over it reveals a submenu. This presents a huge problem to the interaction on a touch-screen device like iPad. If I wanted to go to a link on the submenu, how can I “hover” over one of these menu items to reveal the submenu? I can’t. I can’t tap on the item either, because that’ll take me to a different page. You can begin to see the larger problem.
He makes a similar point about Flash video:
Regarding Flash videos on the web, there are similar problems here as well. Take Hulu for example. I’m sure a lot of people (in the United States) would love to watch these TV shows on their iPad. Putting Apple’s iTunes business aside, I see the same interaction problem here. When watching a video on Hulu, after a few seconds, the playback controls fade away to give you the best experience of watching. How do you get the controls back? Simple! Move your cursor back over the video, and they appear. Not so easy on a tablet without a cursor. Sure, you say that you could just tap the video, right? Wrong. On Hulu, tapping on the video itself pauses the video. If on iPad, to bring up the controls to scrub or view in HD, you’d have to pause the video first. That sounds like a broken interface right there.
There are many web sites that have a similar interaction model and they also load in Mobile Safari, just like Flash would. (LinkedIn comes to mind – the interface relies heavily on rollovers that just don’t work well on the iPhone.) From a user’s perspective, there’s no difference but from a technical perspective, there’s a huge difference: the resources required to run Flash would put a strain on the overall user experience of the device. Or at least that’s what Apple tells us.
Where do you stand on the issue of Flash on iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch?
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