Why Doesn't the iPad Support Flash?

Even Adobe acknowledges Flash's buggy performance on mobile devices

Adobe will no longer support Adobe Flash Player after December 2020.

The iPad never supported the Flash media format. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously wrote a letter detailing all the reasons the iPhone and iPad did not support Flash. His reasons included the lack of control from Adobe (the company that created Flash) and the availability of alternatives that work better on mobile devices.

Why Doesn't the iPad Support Flash?

One reason that the iPad doesn't support Flash is that advancements in technology have made the support unnecessary. HTML—the markup language used to design websites—has reached a point at which it no longer needs plug-ins such as Flash to play videos or show graphics.

In the early days of the web, HTML was relatively simple, but as the internet grew over time, so did HTML. With the arrival of HTML 5, websites gained much broader support to run multimedia elements on their own, which made Flash redundant.

Flash Lacks Reliability

Flash has been a common culprit when a Mac crashes, which is one reason Steve Jobs took a stand against Flash coming to the iOS platform. Flash also raises security concerns and causes performance problems on mobile devices.

Flash Is Not Designed for Touch-Based Screens

Safari plug-ins window on macOS High Sierra that shows the Adobe Flash Player version number

Flash works best on desktop and laptop computers because Adobe designed it for the same types of input found on these computers: keyboards and mice. It's a poor fit for touch screens like the one on the iPad. This difference causes a poor user experience for iPad users trying to use a Flash-based website or play a Flash game.

Flash Eats Up the Battery

Apple has always been sensitive to the battery needs of its mobile devices. When implementing the Retina display on the iPad, Apple expanded the battery to maintain the same battery life even though the screen required more power. Adobe Flash for mobile devices consumes a lot of battery power, especially when compared with apps built for the iPad.

Adobe Dropped Mobile Support of Flash

Adobe itself is discontinuing Flash altogether, phasing it out over 2019–2020.

Perhaps the biggest reason you won't see Flash in the future doesn't come from Apple, it comes from Adobe. Flash continued to have problems in the mobile market, and with the rise of HTML 5, Adobe dropped support for mobile Flash and switched its support to the new internet standard.

Is There Any Way to Run Flash on the iPad?

While Flash does not run on the iPad, it's still possible to watch Flash video or play Flash games on the iPad. Flash-enabled browsers like Photon download and interpret Flash on a remote server and stream the results to the iPad, allowing you to get around the restriction. This method is not as good as actual support, but in many cases, it is good enough. 

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