Flash on the iPad/iPhone will never happen, right, and the reasons have run the gamut from "Apple vendetta" to "Flash is an energy and resource hog." Is the real, mind-numbingly simple explanation all about touch, mouse cursors and hovering? Possibly! Updated.
That's what a real, live Adobe Flash developer is saying this weekend, and I have to admit his simple "hover/mouseover" argument makes a lot of sense.
You see, says Morgan Adams, with current flash sites and flash games and whatnot, the software requires a mouse pointer to function properly, as well as the ability to distinguish between hovering and actual clicking. You see this in Hulu video player controls and with those annoying Cialis banner ads that swell in size when you accidentally hover over them with your cursor.
As Adams explains, the dynamic is pervasive, adopted across the Internet as a "fundamental" component of interactive design. But...BUT! In a touch screen world most people won't care or even understand how to interact with flash banners that were designed with cursors and hovering in mind. In a perfect world devoid of snipes and verbal sparring, Apple and Adobe could work together to make existing flash sites and banners appear on an iPad. Completely possible! But it would suck.
Say all invisible flash content appeared on the iPad or iPhone tomorrow. You would see, with your eyes, that happy Cialis couple sitting in a bathtub as clear as day. But beyond that none of the functionality would work in a touchscreen world. Users could look but not touch, but thanks to the hover/mouseover issues that occur when a pointer/hover-based interface clashes with a touch-based one, it'd all be completely pointless. Hrm.
"Users would hate that broken promise much more than they hate gaps in pages, missing banner ads, and the need to download a game once from the App Store instead of re-downloading it every time they visit a Flash game page," Adams wrote as part of a detailed response over at AppleInsider. He went on to detail several "solutions" that Apple and Adobe (and the Internet) could implement to make flash play well with touch, but they are all "terrible" he says, including the option that sees every flash developer on every web site around the world rewriting existing flash content so that it's compatible with future touch-enabled mobile devices. Not fun, and certainly not profitable.
"So it's not just that Apple has refused to support Flash. It cannot, logically, be done. A finger is not a mouse, and Flash sites are designed to require a mouse pointer (and keyboard) in fundamental ways. Someday that may change, and every Flash site could be redesigned with touch-friendly Flash. But that doesn't make Flash sites work now," Morgan said.
We'll see! It's an interesting development, if nothing else, but if you're Apple and this is true, why not just come out and say it?
Update: We've taken this post off the front page because some of the staff don't completely agree with the argument presented here. [Apple Insider Forums via RoughlyDrafted]