Why Flash-Based Programs Can’t Run on Mobile Phones or Some Android Tablets
Many consumers are concerned and can even be frustrated by the fact that their mobile phones don’t support the industry standard Flash, a long-standing and highly useful format that web developers have taken advantage of for more than a decade. Many websites that a consumer might want to access require Flash, making those sites completely unusable on a mobile phone.
It’s not Flash’s fault; it’s an advanced format that can be used to create stunning visual effects and even fully functional programs. We’ve developed an entire line of web development software that takes advantage of Flash’s software capabilities with amazing results. Unfortunately, that software can’t be used on a mobile phone.
What it comes down to is that Flash is too CPU-intensive for mobile phones. The processors in phones are currently too weak to display Flash objects without the very serious risk for either crashing the phone or severely lagging the operating system.
Despite the fact that we have extremely powerful processors available in personal computers, the CPUs in phones are still relatively weak. One of the main reasons for this is that a modern ultra-powerful processor requires a heat sink and a cooling fan or other cooling method to keep the chip from getting too hot and frying.
The electronics in a phone are too compact to allow proper heat ventilation, one of the reasons that you never see a grill or other ventilation holes on your phone. Even if there was air flow through the phone, there still wouldn’t be the possibility for a cooling fan inside of it.
Since the phone’s main purpose is to facilitate clear voice conversations, it is necessary for the device to have no moving parts — like a fan spinning at 4000 rpm. What good would your phone be if every time you put your ear to it to make a phone call, there was an overwhelming hum of a fan inside?
To illustrate this point, put your ear to the bottom of your laptop. Moving parts transfer vibrations much more efficiently through solids than they do through gases, so even though your fan might be quiet when your head is a foot away from it, pressing your ear up against something that the fan is bolted to is going to transfer nearly all those vibrations into your ear. Since vibrations inside of a phone would render the device unusable, it can’t have a fan, and since it can’t have a fan, it can’t have a CPU that’s powerful enough to require a fan.
And since it can’t have a CPU that’s powerful enough to require a fan, it can’t run software like Flash that requires so much processing power that it would need a fan.
Even if we did have CPUs powerful enough to run Flash, it would eat into the phone’s battery life significantly. One of the main issues that mobile phone developers have had for years is the problem of power: Modern batteries have not increased in power at the same rate as CPUs, so our personal digital devices are configured to maximize battery life. What good is an MP3 player or cell phone if the battery is dead after one or two hours? We can be lucky to get an entire day of use out of these devices, depending on what we’re doing with them.
Consequently, a resource-intensive format like Flash would likely drain the battery pretty quickly, which would be counter-productive to its purpose. These devices are useful because they can go long periods of time without being plugged into an outlet — hence the use of the word “mobile.”
The decision by cell phone operating system developers to exclude Flash as a supported format is more complicated than just CPU power and battery life, but these are the main reasons that it’s not technologically feasible at this point. There may come a time in the future when our CPUs are efficient enough that they don’t generate nearly as much heat, or that a new method of CPU cooling is developed, or that a new type of power storage increases battery life dramatically, but until that time, we’ll have to make do without Flash on our phones or wait for the format itself to become more efficient.
The good news is that cell phones currently support HTML5, the new standard in web development, and an extremely versatile coding language. Many of our programs are now being written to take full advantage of the power HTML5 has to offer, allowing their possible use on mobile phones. We’re excited about the ability to bring you the same quality of product with a more efficient platform, and we’ll be releasing a lot of this software within the next few years.
So sit back and hold on! The mobile market is expanding fast, and we’ll see a lot of amazing innovations over the next few years. You’ll be able to maintain your CoffeeCup-fueled website from your phone before you know it.