updated 03:55 pm EDT, Thu August 19, 2010
Flash on Android seen too slow and unoptimized
A test of Flash 10.1 on Android late yesterday has cast doubt on its usefulness in the short term. Using both the Droid 2's preloaded Flash install and the final release on an original Droid, Laptop found that claims of desktop-level access were inaccurate. Most desktop video sites, which Adobe has usually claimed should run, often produced long load times, stuttering or froze any outside input.
Only mobile-optimized sites can reliably work, the magazine found.
Games also underscored the problems of using Flash. Apart from the well-known issues with games that assume the presence of a keyboard, the titles often bog down or become unresponsive even when optimized for touch.
General web browsing is also much slower and less responsive, as the browser has to download Flash content it otherwise would have skipped over and risks the same plugin-related crashes as on the desktop.
While Flash 10.1 potentially works well in situations where the resolution and actions are optimized for a phone, the test supports notions that the plugin is currently a liability for smartphones rather than a help. Apple chief Steve Jobs is well known for having explained the absence of Flash on iOS as a matter of quality since the present implementation isn't as fast and stable as Apple would like for its web experience on the iPad and iPhone. He has instead pressed for HTML5 for at least video; the technology doesn't yet support copy protection or on-the-spot adaptive quality but puts much less performance overhead on the 1GHz or less processors in phones today.
The increasing use of HTML5 inadvertently made the Flash test difficult, as sites like South Park Studios will push Android phones to HTML5 even when they have Adobe's add-on, giving an impression of smooth playback that might not necessarily translate to Flash.