Skip to Content

Why No Flash in the iPad?

Apple may be shutting out Flash–and much of the Web–to protect the App Store.
January 28, 2010

When Apple revealed the iPad many people were quick to point out that, like the iPhone, it lacks support for Adobe’s Flash software. It’s a little shocking that a device Apple has billed as “the best way to experience Web, e-mail, and photos” doesn’t support such a important and commonly used Web plug-in.

Flash is sometimes cited as a security concern, but it’s hard to believe that Apple, with all its engineering and design genius, couldn’t find a way to address that issue without blocking off so much functionality.

Adobe certainly seems indignant. Adrian Ludwig, Adobe’s group manager of Flash Platform product marketing, wrote in a blog post:

[…] without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web. If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab–not to mention the millions of other sites on the web–I’ll be out of luck.

Adobe does have a solution for frustrated developers. Its Packager for iPhone software converts applications written in ActionScript 3 to a format that will run on the iPhone. In fact, this solution may shed some light on why Apple chose to block Flash in the first place.

Perhaps, if Flash were supported, and it were easy to access rich applications through the browser, users wouldn’t download quite so much from the App Store. Earlier this week, by launching a Web version of its Google Voice software, Google showed exactly how disruptive a powerful web application can be to Apple’s tight control over the software that runs on its devices.

Google turned to HTML 5 to power this application through the browser, but Flash is even more powerful and versatile. Apple may hope to keep developers focused on tailoring software for its hardware, rather than building them on a more ubiquitous platform–the Web.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.