How many times have you seen the line ‘This plugin is vulnerable and should be updated’? Well, now Google is planning to phase out full support for Adobe’s Flash software on its Chrome browser by the end of 2016. So will Google finally kill Flash?
Flash’s death has been slow and painful and many tech firms like Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla have taken steps to stop Flash running. In 2015, Facebook’s security chief Alex Stamos called for it to be killed off once and for all. However, it still lives on because many sites still make heavy use of it and some games employ it in ways that are hard to replicate with other web technologies.
Google’s current plan is that nearly every web site will have Flash content blocked by default. Users will still be able to enable Flash content on a site-by-site basis, but they’ll have to specifically choose to do so. Chrome will display a prompt offering to enable Flash; if chosen, Chrome would remember to run Flash on that site for all future visits. Google says that only 10 sites will have Flash enabled by default to avoid annoying users with too many prompts. The sites include YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitch, and Amazon – but only for 12 months, after that Flash will be blocked by default, like it or not!
What is so wrong with Flash?
Initially Flash had great success as a tool for creating web games and animations, and we loved it, but it has become increasingly obvious that the downsides outweigh the positives. Downsides like lack of support on smartphones, Flash pages and players being slow to load and a big drain on laptop batteries, and Flash being continually subject to security issues, making it a major risk for anyone browsing the web. Even Adobe said back in December 2015 that it will now “encourage content creators to build with new web standards,” such as HTML5, rather than Flash.
So, will Google finally kill Flash?
Not immediately, but Google’s actions certainly put another nail in Flash’s coffin. Adobe is by no means doing away with Flash — that’s ultimately up to us web developers. HTML5 has been taking Flash’s place as the go-to tool for animation and interactivity; it’s an all-around better choice, it’s an open standard and we’ve been using it for some time.