You’re probably aware that the iPhone doesn’t support Flash. Instead, it shows a little blue box and doesn’t let you see any of the Flash-based content or features. But if Flash is a way for web designers to make their websites look, well, flashier, and Apple is all about good design, then why doesn’t Apple let people see Flash content on their iPhone?
Lots of reasons. First, Flash is a big resource hog. A huge one. The biggest, fattest, resource-eating pig you’ve ever seen. (Can you imagine trying to fit a pig inside an iPhone? We’d all need bigger pockets, that’s for sure.) Apple is all about trying to make things “Just Work” for users, but if websites running Flash were running on the iPhone, the Flash would take up so many system resources that, for instance, if someone tried to call you, your phone might not tell you until they’re already leaving a voicemail message.
It’s also full of security holes. Arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities (wherein a malicious website can do, literally, anything to your computer) abound in the desktop versions of Flash Player, and there’s no reason to assume the iPhone version would be much more secure. Last I checked (a few days ago), there were 117 un-patched known security vulnerabilities in Flash Player, 76 of which enabled arbitrary code execution. Many of these vulnerabilities have been published for years; five of them were first published in 2006. Obviously, supporting Flash is a huge security nightmare.
But it isn’t all bad. By blocking Flash from iOS, Apple has brought to many more designers’ and developers’ attention some of the promising new features in HTML5 and CSS3. Virtually all of the things Flash can do can now be done in modern web browsers, natively, without the security concerns or the resource-hogging Flash-pig-monster. In my opinion, the web would be better off without any Flash at all, and I appreciate Apple taking the stance it has with Flash on iOS.