Adobe Flash Player Finally Comes To An End

Adobe Flash Player, the browser plug-in that helped to achieve rich animations and interactivity for users in the early web, has been officially put to an end.

Flash was once considered to be amongst the most popular methods for people to stream videos and play games online. It was released in 1996.

It however was riddled with security problems and could not update itself for the smartphone era.

Adobe has urged people to uninstall Flash because no security updates will be provided for it by the company. Starting January 12, videos and animations running in its Flash Player will be stopped by Adobe.

At the time of launch of Flash, most of the internet users used dial-up connections to connect to the internet and was therefore very slow compared to today’s standards. But web designers and animators were allowed by Flash to deliver exciting content that were relatively quick to download.

“You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser,” explained animator David Firth.

Before the advent of social media, the animations and characters – such as the gangly, green hunchback Salad Fingers created by him enjoyed viral success.

“I just made the stuff I wanted to see that I felt was missing: dark, surreal comedy,” he said in a television interview. “There were no shortcuts to viral content. No corporate fingers twiddling the algorithms. It was simply attention-grabbing and quality material that rose to the top.”

“It was the first website I’d ever seen that allowed anyone to post content and it be available in real time. If the community felt the content was low quality, it would get removed at the end of the day so you actually had to take that into account when posting,” he said.

In addition to animations, Flash also let websites such as YouTube to stream high-quality video.

Flash had been installed on 99 per cent of internet-connected desktop PCs by 2009, Adobe had said then. However by then, the trend was to shift to mobile devices and Adobe was slow to adapt.

“We had optimised for lower-end phones with Flash Lite,” explains David Mendels, former executive vice president of products at Adobe. “It was incredibly successful in places like Japan, but it wasn’t the same as the full desktop Flash. It wasn’t fully compatible.”

A blistering open letter headlined Thoughts On Flash, was written by Apple’s Steve Jobs in April 2010. In the letter Jobs laid out the reasons why iPhones and iPads from Apple would not use Flash.

“When the iPhone came out, Flash wasn’t quite ready,” Mendels said.  “But also I think Apple wanted to create an Apple-only ecosystem.”

Even though there were conjectures of Adobe coming out with a Flash Player version for smartphones, the world has moved ahead. 

Videos to smartphones were being streamed without Flash by brands such as Facebook, Netflix and YouTube. Ultimately development of Flash for mobile devices was ended by Adobe in November 2011.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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