Once and briefly the darling of interactive Web content creators, Flash has fallen by the wayside and has become more of a liability than a feature. Even Adobe has taken steps to de-emphasize Flash content in its own tools, while still keeping backwards compatibility a thing. In its stead is HTML5, which covers almost everything Flash can do, especially videos. To hasten Flash’s demise from the Web, Google will disable Flash by default in its Chrome Web browser before the year ends. That said, it will still actually ship Flash even then, just in case.
Chrome and Flash have a rather tumultuous relationship. While Google would of course prefer that everyone use HTML5 instead, especially for videos, it couldn’t turn a cold shoulder to the hundreds of sites and services that still use Flash one way or another. At the same time, however, it couldn’t ignore the gaping security holes that Flash left. So it decided to actually bundle Flash with Chrome, so that it could more directly control the experience, and disable Flash if needed.
The latter will be what it will use to put Flash on life support by the fouth quarter of this year. At least as far as Chrome is concerned. By default, Flash will be disabled for all websites. However, if it determines that Flash is absolutely essential to display certain content, that is “not ads”, it will prompt users and give them a choice whether to enable Flash or not. Chrome will then remember the user’s answer to that question. If the user says yes, the browser will reload the page with Flash enabled.
That prompting, however, could get pretty annoying if one visits Flash-filled sites regularly. That is why Chrome will also have a whitelist of the top 10 sites that use Flash a lot. That list currently includes the likes of YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and Amazon. That said, some of those sites, like YouTube, do have HTML5 versions of videos, but not all. Chrome will also have settings that allow system administrators to disable that feature entirely.
With Google once again using its clout and the ubiquity of its browser, the end of Flash could very well be coming sooner rather than later. Other major web browsers, like Firefox and Safari, have also gotten behind the counter-Flash movement, but Chrome might be the first to make the harshest step forward.