Why Doesn't the iPad Support Flash?

Even Adobe acknowledges Flash's buggy performance on mobile devices

Photon Flash Player allows you to play Flash games on the web.


The iPad has never supported Flash. Steve Jobs famously wrote a letter detailing all the reasons the iPhone and iPad did not support Flash. The letter can be summed up as saying Flash doesn't work well on mobile devices. 

Why Doesn't the iPad Support Flash?

First and foremost, Flash is a dead technology. While still widely used on the web, Flash already has a tombstone mounted in the graveyard just waiting for the date to be filled in. 

The death of Flash was inevitable with advancements in HTML, the markup language used to design websites. In the early days of the web, HTML was relatively simple, but as the web grew over time, so did HTML. The most recent version — HTML 5 — has much broader support for graphics and video than the previous versions, which makes Flash redundant.

Flash Lacks Reliability

Flash has been identified as one of the most common culprits when a Mac crashes, which is one of the reasons Steve Jobs took a stand against Flash coming to the iOS platform. Flash also raises security concerns and has had performance issues on mobile devices.

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 display required more power. Adobe Flash for mobile devices consumes a lot of battery power, especially when compared with native apps built from the ground up for the iPad.

Flash Is Not Designed for Touch-Based Screens

Flash was designed for desktop and laptop PCs, which means it was designed for the same types of input found on these computers: keyboards and mice. As a touch-based device, the iPad is configured differently, and this difference would cause a poor user experience for iPad users who try to use a Flash-based website or play a Flash game.

Adobe Dropped Mobile Support of Flash

Perhaps the biggest reason you won't see Flash in the future comes not from Apple but from Adobe. Flash continued to have problems in the mobile market, and with the rise of HTML 5, the writing was on the wall. Adobe dropped support for mobile Flash and switched its support to HTML 5.

Is There Any Way to Run Flash on the iPad?

While Flash does not run on the iPad, there is a workaround for watching Flash video or playing 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 is not as good as native support, but in many cases, it is good enough.