Ah, Adobe Flash Player. It provides us with so much entertainment.
Vimeo. YouTube. Vevo. Hulu. The list goes on.
All of these sites are powered by Flash, although some of them are coming around and supporting the HTML5 video standard. Flash also powers quite a few of the annoying banner ads you see on sites every day.
You know what else is pretty common about Flash? Each time you visit a site with a Flash video playing, you’ll notice your computer’s fans speeding up, as the computer skyrockets to temperature levels close to those of the surface of the sun.
I kicked Flash to the curb
For a while now (a few months?), I’ve been debating whether or not it would be a smart idea to get rid of Flash completely from my MacBook Pro. I develop websites professionally, so it might seem daft to do such a thing. What would I have to gain from it?
Geek factor. Yup, the main reason I disabled Flash on my MacBook Pro is for the geek factor. Did you know that you can get up to an hour of extra battery life when you don’t allow your browser to load Flash content? What a resource hog, right?
It turns out that HTML5 video uses up to 20% less CPU resources than Flash does. You know what that means? I might actually get the advertised 7 hours of battery life on my MacBook Pro! But there has to be a tradeoff, right? There must be something that makes this decision not worth it.
Since I disabled Flash, each time I go to a video site to watch a video (be it news, comedy, or movie trailer), if it doesn’t work, I simply leave the site. Have you ever gotten stuck in the YouTube Zone? It’s where you go to YouTube to watch just one video, but it turns into a Weird Video Marathon, lasting three hours. That doesn’t happen any more, since I turned off Flash.
Sure, YouTube does have HTML5 support for some videos, but it doesn’t work on all of them. That’s better for me, because I save the initial 5 minutes of video watching AND the extra 2 hours of unplanned video watching.
Cheating, when necessary
So what about the times when I absolutely need Flash? A week ago, I had to check in for a car service appointment, and the dealership’s check in service was written completely in Flash on their website. Sure, I probably could have called, but I preferred to do it online.
As it turns out, Google has baked Flash directly into Chrome. Since getting rid of my Android phone, I’m a huge fan of avoiding Google products as much as I can, but sometimes it’s just necessary. When I absolutely need Flash, I’ll fire up Chrome, get done what needs to be done, and close Chrome as quickly as possible.
You might call this cheating, but I call it a necessary evil.
So that’s all I’ve got for you. Flash is going away, folks. It doesn’t ship on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It also doesn’t ship on any Apple computers. HTML5 will get better and better, and there will soon be no need for Flash. I’m getting rid of it now, because it not only increases my productivity, but my laptop’s battery life as well!