Why Adobe’s Flash doesn’t work on Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch

onSale - Your Computer & Electronics SuperstoreDaniel Eran Dilger writes for RoughlyDrafted, “Morgan Adams, an interactive content developer who knows a lot about building Flash, wrote in with an interesting perspective on Flash and the iPad.”

Adams comments include:

Flash on the iPad will not (and should not) happen—and the main reason, as I see it, is one that never gets talked about: Current Flash sites could never be made work well on any touchscreen device, and this cannot be solved by Apple, Adobe, or magical new hardware.

That’s not because of slow mobile performance, battery drain or crashes.

MacDailyNews Take: Even though those very real problems do indeed exist today, Adams is correct, there’s yet another reason why Adobe’s Flash doesn’t work:

It’s because of the hover or mouseover problem.

Many (if not most) current Flash games, menus, and even video players require a visible mouse pointer. They are coded to rely on the difference between hovering over something (mouseover) vs. actually clicking. This distinction is not rare. It’s pervasive, fundamental to interactive design, and vital to the basic use of Flash content. New Flash content designed just for touchscreens can be done, but people want existing Flash sites to work. All of them—not just some here and there—and in a usable manner. That’s impossible no matter what.

By the way, imagine my embarrassment as a Flash developer when my own animated site wouldn’t work on the newfangled iPhone! So I sat down and made new animations using WebKit’s CSS animation abilities. Now desktop users still see Flash at adamsi.com, but iPhone users see animations too. It can be done.

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Pete A.” for the heads up.]


  1. Oh no! Gasp, you mean, they actually have to learn a new technology? God forbid… The world is grinding to a halt. There is actually something better than flash, that is a standard? You mean there is something newer and easier to use than the Sony Walkman? You mean, there are ways to commute that are faster and safer than horse and buggy? No no no, my world view, it is coming to an end, I can’t survive without my precious flash…

    Thank goodness we have Steve Jobs to the rescue…

  2. Although I agree that Flash is an obsolete technology and you’re better off using open standards like html5/css3…. the hover/mouseover problem also exists when you use javascript/css3.

    I just added an extra Click event to my webmenu (where before there was only a mouseover event) so it works on my iPhone and future iPad.

    MW: fact (yes it is)

    Last night my wife shook me awake from my troubled dreams. I lay there trembling, bathed in sweat, tears running from my reddened eyes. She asked me what I had been dreaming about to invoke such a reaction. “Was it something to do with the kids?”, she asked. I could barely whisper my response for I feared that merely talking about it would somehow bring it to fruition. “No!”, I said, “it was something far worse than you could ever imagine.” I dreamed of a distant future – 40 years from now. It was our 50th Anniversary, you had prepared my favorite meal and we were enjoying a glass of wine by the fire. Our guests had departed and there we were – laughing, talking – our shared memories springing to life with a partial phrase and a smile. You reach into the coffee table drawer and present me with your gift. “It’s the latest iPhone”, you exclaim, “the 12Gs”. I burst into tears and exploded with rage. “You stupid old bitch!”, I screamed, “Haven’t you been reading MacDailyNews?!”, “The iPhone still can’t display porn and stream Pandora at the same time!!”

  4. yeah, read that article on saturday and makes sense. flash is no go on multitouch devices, the article explains quite a lot, not just hover, but also use of keyboard, resolution problems and so on. I think that apple chose lesser evil by not implementing flash on multitouch devices rather than offering content users can’t interact with.

  5. While the war rages isn’t the consumer looking at it from a less technical level?

    i.e. Hey, I can’t load this “must have site” on my iPad, iPhone, etc. That sucks. Next.

    I don’t think they care which is better, only whether or not they can get to their content.

  6. “You stupid old bitch!”, I screamed, “Haven’t you been reading MacDailyNews?!”, “The iPhone still can’t display porn and stream Pandora at the same time!!”

    With future thoughts like that, it’s doubtful you’ll last another ten years, let alone forty.

    Fifty-six years, and going strong.

  7. In other words, even if Apple made every effort to accommodate Adobe and bring Flash to iPhone/iPad/iPod ecosystem, it would be totally USELESS. Pretty much most of Flash functionality out there would be useless. Instead of seeing a LEGO brick with a question mark, users would see “Skip Intro” or “Click to Start” button. As soon as they try to anything, they’ll realise that there is no way to “mouse over” something, since there is NO MOUSE!!!

    I cannot think of ANY web site that I frequently use, and that requires Flash, and that doesn’t heavily rely on mouse-over for collapsible menus and other navigation. Let alone games that use mouse pointer for steering or other navigation. About the only ones that don’t need mouse over are the ones that play video or slide shows (and they could be easily re-coded to work without Flash anyway).

    I have no doubt, Adobe is frantically working on mobile Flash that supports full multi-touch, and that’s fine. However, how many years (decades) do you think will it take for web site operators to re-code ALL their little Flash applications, so that they can be navigated via multi-touch, rather than mouse pointer?

    Supporting Flash applications on ANY multi-touch, mouse-less interface is practically useless today.

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