It was a typical morning. I got up, I had some coffee, and I grabbed my phone to go over my email and Twitter. I noticed a link by a band I’ve been following and tapped on it. The link took me to their website which had a small playlist with their two new songs. The songs played in embedded Youtube videos.
It was all utterly boring and banal. And by that I’m referring to my morning and not the band. The band is pretty good. But that’s not my point right now. My point is that the process of going from one app to another smoothly while half-awake and sipping coffee was completely normal and boring. There were no surprises, no frustrations, and no interruptions. Just coffee, Twitter, and music.
There wouldn’t have even been a need for a blog post, save for one thing. It suddenly occurred to me that this utterly ordinary experience isn’t all that ordinary yet for most people. If I had been using my old phone, a Palm Pre or an iPhone, my experience would have immediately become “interesting” in a negative sense as soon as I hit the page with the embedded Youtube videos. That’s because like most video on the web, they were encoded in Flash, Adobe’s proprietary but ubiquitous multimedia format.
There are a number of things that can happen when you hit a page with embedded Flash content. If it’s a Youtube video, you can usually just tap on it and be taken to your phone’s Youtube app - unless of course that video has been marked as “not for mobile” by its creator or if there was a mistake in the embed code. And if it’s from a service other than Youtube like Vimeo, things get more complicated because it will require you to install a different app to play the exact same content. And it gets worse as the service becomes more obscure. The chances that there is an app which will run seamlessly on your phone and plug into your browser become less and less as you go further off the beaten path of the Internet. And good luck finding a news website that doesn’t have its own proprietary flash player that won’t plug into any app.
More often than not, if you encounter Flash on your phone, you will likely just navigate away from it unless your phone specifically supports it. And that’s the point. Say what you will about Flash: it’s proprietary, its buggy, it’s got a ton of security issues. But it’s also ubiquitous. Apple likes to present it’s iPhone as a device for ordinary people. But they also refuse to support Flash on it because they see Adobe as a competitor to be crushed. And their users suffer for it.
Ultimately, the mobile web experience needs to be a full web experience in order to be a good experience. And for better or worse Flash is part of that experience. There is no excuse for a modern smartphone to not have it.
“The antipathy toward Hawass in Egypt may be difficult to grasp in the West, where he is typically found on American television, fearlessly tracking down desert tombs, unearthing mummies and bringing new life to Egypt’s dusty past. But in Egypt he has been a target of anger among young protesters who helped depose President Hosni Mubarak in February. Hawass had been accused of corruption, shoddy science and having uncomfortably close connections with the deposed president and first lady all of which he has vociferously denied. Many young archaeologists also are demanding more jobs and better pay and they complain Hawass has failed to deliver. “He was the Mubarak of antiquities,” said Nora Shalaby, a young Egyptian archaeologist who has been active in the revolution.”—The Fall of Zahi Hawass | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
“When attending a gay wedding after being cured at Dr. Marcus Bachmann’s clinic always bring a heterosexual “accountability buddy.” Stay in the same hotel room and share a King-size bed. Because two queens is kind of gay.”—Stephen Colbert