Flash Player 10.1: This Video is Not Optimized for Mobile

Aug 19, 2010
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Flash Player 10.1: This Video is Not Optimized for Mobile

Whether or not you've been following the whole Apple and Adobe firefight that's been happening over the last couple of years (but more loudly ever since the launch of the iPad), if you have a smartphone that can browse the web, you've probably been either waiting patiently for Flash to get out of its diapers and give you the full experience you've been aching for, or you simply just haven't cared enough to give it a second thought. Well, now that Android 2.2 has officially "launched" on a device (the Motorola Droid 2), and that means Flash Player 10.1 has officially been "launched," the tests have begun. And, sadly, if you're part of the camp that's been waiting for the full experience of the web on your mobile phone, you might have to keep waiting.

Laptop Mag took the Droid 2 from Motorola, which utilizes Verizon's network, for a spin. As we mentioned above, it's the first device to actually launch with Flash Player 10.1. While the Nexus One has had access to it through many Beta versions, this is the device that's got it on the box, so to speak (and literally). So, with that being said, they wanted to try the device, and make sure that the online experience, both surfing the Internet and experiencing games and videos, was as top-notch as it should have been. Or, more specifically, as good as Adobe says it is. Truth be told, it can all be summed up in just a few sentences:

"I'm the last person on Earth who wanted to believe Steve Jobs when he told Walt Mossberg at D8 that "Flash has had its day. I'm sad to admit that Steve Jobs was right. Adobe's offering seems like it's too little, too late."

It seems pretty straight-cut. While Flash Player 10.1 brings the grownup experience of Flash Player from the PC to your mobile phone, it seems like it's just not good enough. Through the many trials, results are all over the place. Trying to access video on sites like Fox.com lead to choppy presentation, and sometimes videos that just didn't work. Choppy playback means that you can't actually watch a video, and that's kind of the whole point. Furthermore, moving around on a page while you're trying to watch a video was pretty much impossible. And, more often than not, it became brutally apparent that the whole experience was not, in fact, optimized for the mobile experience. (As the picture above so eloquently displays.)

Just as devastating, though, is game play. Playing Flash-based games on your mobile device may be the future, but it doesn't look like it's going to cut it. As their tests show, most games are still primarily aimed at traditional PCs. You still need that full keyboard (not the QWERTY one on your Droid 2, mind you), and a mouse. Some games wanted you to click the CTRL key, while others want you to click that left mouse key. In the end, even when they went to a game that was supposedly optimized for the mobile phone, it still just didn't work as well as it should. If at all.

It turns out that, despite all the hard work Adobe obviously put into cramming the full experience of Flash into the mobile world, the rest of the world isn't ready for this. And yes, this is their fault. You cannot promise us something like the full web experience, and then when we try to experience it, have our phone slow down to a stand-still -- or just stop working altogether. You can't tell us that we can watch "all" of the videos out there in the world, but then have the playback be so terrible that we don't even want to waste our time.

Because, in the end, it is a waste of our time. If we have to shut off Flash Player 10.1 just to have an experience on the Internet that we can enjoy, and actually accomplish something, then you're not delivering us the full Internet. In fact, it looks like you're hindering it. And, don't try to blame the device, either. If a new phone, featuring a 1GHz processor can't run your "full" Internet, how are devices supposed to do it with lesser processors? They won't be able to, apparently -- and that's just not the way this should happen.

Yes, we were looking forward to Flash Player on our devices. Not just our Android devices, either. No, we wanted the experience to transcend Google's mobile Operating System, and spread its wings onto other platforms, other devices. We wanted this to work out, so much, that we closed our eyes and experienced what we would call blind hope. Maybe even blind faith. Can these things, detailed more in depth through the source link and outlined above, be fixed through software optimizations, and through back-end optimizations on the Internet websites that have Flash player on them? Yes, of course. But, that's not really the point, is it? We wanted the full Internet, without having to cut any corners or make any more optimizations that some of these sites, if not most of them, would rather just switch over to HTML5, instead of going back and redoing everything to make sure that mobile phones are optimized to play the full Flash Player experience.

Will the software optimizations come? Probably. Will the software continue to be tweaked until the foreseeable future, constantly trying to improve on the thing that was (probably) prematurely released? For sure. But, will it matter? If this is any indicator of what's to come, we're going to go ahead and open our eyes and count this as a lost cause.

[via Laptop Mag]


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