Frash Could Be Apple's Flash Waterloo

By  |  Monday, July 5, 2010 at 9:24 am

An enterprising developer has proven that with a little work, Flash will work just fine on the iPad and iPhone, as long as you’re comfortable jailbreaking your device. Yes you will have problems–Flash is intended for use with a mouse, and not touch-based input methods. But certainly it gives hope that enterprising developers can be able to force Apple’s hand.

The program is called “Frash,” and will work in Safari Mobile through a compatibility layer. The program is actually a port of the official Adobe Flash plug-in that is already available for Android devices. Performance is actually pretty decent–sorry Mr. Jobs, there goes your trademark excuse for not allowing Flash at all.

Here’s a video of Frash in action:

Frash will currently only run on the iPad, but there are plans to port it to the iPhone as well. Only the 3GS and iPhone 4 would be supported, obviously for performance reasons.

The poster of the video says that Frash will be released when it’s stable, and that keyboard and video support are being worked on. However, for video to work it would “require major reverse engineering of the video decoding frameworks on the iPhone.”

Cross your fingers they get it to work, and hopefully force Apple to tear down that wall (with all apologies to the Gipper).


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30 Comments For This Post

  1. Hans Hirschi Says:

    Flash on an iPhone/iPad is like using a sextant instead of a GPS these days. I don't get this debate. Waterloo? I'd compare Flash to last Mohican…

  2. Josh Rhoderick Says:

    Anyone who watches this industry know that no one "forces Apple's hand." Economics, not politics, drives Apple's decisions. I suspect that if Android devices have a burgeoning market of Flash apps that is enough to entice iOS users to switch to Android, then Apple will listen. Otherwise, it ain't gonna happen.

    Secondly, Jobs's primary "excuse" for not supporting Flash was that there was no Flash to support. Adobe would not — or could not — produce a version of Flash for mobile devices that didn't crash every 5 minutes. Stop pretending like Jobs made a kingly decision to ignore some amazing implementation of Flash for mobile devices that Adobe had ready to go. That didn't happen. Apple and Adobe were in direct communication for years about this and Adobe dropped the ball time and time again. They failed to meet deadlines. So Apple moved on.

  3. Mark Says:

    Agreed. Matthew is wrong as well. Jobs is on the public record about Flash and what he asked Adobe for, as far back as the Apple shareholders meeting in early 2008. That was before Android and Pre were launched and before Google had any interest in Flash.

  4. Matthew Fabb Says:

    Adobe had FlashLite, a mobile version of Flash that has been installed literally over 1 billion cell phones. There were no problems with stability of FlashLite. However, Steve Jobs complained when the iPhone first came out that he wanted a full version of Flash not FlashLite.

    Adobe has been working on a full version of Flash for mobile and has teamed up with various partners (like Google, RIM, Palm) to make sure it's stable, optimized and didn't consume too much battery. Apple never wanted to get involved in working with Adobe and so being on schedule wasn't an issue. They could have delivered a year AHEAD of schedule, but it wouldn't matter as Apple wasn't part of the group working with Adobe.

    Apple uses technical issues as excuses, as any of those technical issues could have been worked out, but in the end it was pure business issue to disallow Flash/=.

  5. sfmitch Says:

    FlashLite is a joke.

    The whole idea of Flash on a mobile device is/was to allow people to see regular websites built on real Flash.

    Real Flash for mobile devices is just now becoming a reality. The first Apple mobile device that realistically could have had Flash is the iPhone 4 (the iPad came out before Flash (even in its' not ready for prime time, bleeding edge state) was an option).

  6. Tom Ross Says:

    If you care to read Steve Job's open letter, technical reasons are NOT the most important for Apple. Apple's main point is that they don't want a metaplatform for mobile apps. They don't want apps that aren't tailored to the OS, that are slower than they could be, that don't use the latest OS features just because the holder of the metaplatform didn't get around to implementing those OS features into their metaplatform. Steve said it loud and clear. No reason for conspiracy theories.

  7. Frank Says:

    @josh … Succinctly put.

  8. Ed Oswald Says:

    Josh – the crash excuse isn't a good one either. And I'm not exactly sure where you get this information about "direct communication," every statement made was that Apple was NEVER interested in putting Flash on the iPhone — at any time.

    Jobs himself has said Flash runs slow on the iPhone and iPad. And Apple's hand has been forced before — great example? Dropping fairplay. They were one of the last major digital music providers to ditch DRM.

  9. Elias Says:

    Your memory of history is a bit off Ed. Don't you remember that Jobs was one of the first people to ask the music providers to not require DRM for online music? He made a very public statement on Apple's web site about it. The music providers, in an attempt to weaken Apple's hold on online music sales, eventually responded by allowing other companies to sell DRM-free music while forcing Apple to continue selling music with DRM attached.

    When Apple finally stopped selling DRM music, it wasn't because its hand was forced. It was because the music providers finally allowed Apple to do what it originally wanted to do.

  10. sfmitch Says:

    @Elias – thanks for setting the record straight. It's funny how people conveniently bend the facts to match their argument.

    The other common example of this is claiming that public outcry led to Apple allowing 3rd party apps on the iPhone when it is quite clear that it was Apple's plan all along.

  11. Tom Ross Says:

    Exactly. Another example is that whatever strategy (or gimmick) an Apple competitor is using today is equaled to what Microsoft did in the 80s and seen as proof for Apple's eventual downfall, even when there is no similarity or relevance at all.

  12. Ed Oswald Says:

    Elias, please. He made that statement and KEPT DRM on his music while others took it off. Apple was one of the LAST major stores to do it. Saying and doing are two TOTALLY different things.

  13. Elias Says:

    Ed, did you read the first three sentences of my post and ignore the rest? Try reading the rest of what I wrote and you will see why Apple was one of the last major stores to drop DRM and why you are wrong about Apple's hand being forced.

  14. Tom Ross Says:

    Ed, it was not "his" music, it was content owned by the music companies that Apple was not allowed to sell without DRM.

    And to be exact, Apple wasn't the last to go DRM free. EMI was the first major label to break out and sell DRM free on iTunes, then the other majors reacted by giving DRM free licenses to Amazon and other competitors, and finally they gave DRM free licenses to Apple. But Apple definitely was first with the EMI deal in May 2007.

  15. Mark Says:

    You forget that the dropping of DRM depends on contracts. The labels were in no hurry to grant this to Apple since they were using this as a selling point for the other music stores, which they were hoping would weaken Apple’s dominance of the download market.

    Have you been under a rock? You seemed to have totally flubbed your history of that period.

  16. Ed Oswald Says:

    Of course I knew that, but Apple could have easily played their own hand with their power in the sector, and decided not to. All Steve Jobs did was write a open letter. There's no evidence that Apple played hardball at all with DRM.. and thus let the record labels play their hand. I am completely aware of the history here. I have been covering apple extensively for the last 5 years, you know 😉

  17. Lava Says:

    There's no evidence you are right, but plenty of evidence that the labels began dropping DRM requirements only after Jobs wrote his letter.

    Again, as others have pointed out, you convenient bend the truth so it fits your own pre-determined conclusions.

  18. Tom Ross Says:

    One should also mention that not all DRM systems were created equal. In Fairplay created the first (and pretty much only) DRM system with universal acceptance because they strived to mediate the interests of both consumers and rights holders. In that spirit, it's obvious that Apple would never have rocked the table and risk that one party leaves.

  19. @causticmango Says:

    Argh! I don't *want* Flash on my iPhone or iPad and I don't really like using it on my desktop. What a colossal waste of time.

    In case you haven't noticed, even the Flash demos on Android (which STILL isn't available) suck.

  20. Darwin Says:

    They friggin kill battery life on Android phones and thats never going to change. Adobe has had years to make it work right.

  21. Ned Kelly Says:

    @Ed – the record labels were the ones who insisted on some sort of protection before they would allow their songs to be distributed . Once the labels allowed Apple to drop the DRM ( remember Steve's open letter on DRM ? ) then Apple complied ( the labels did however get a higher ( $0.99 V'S $1.29 ) pricing option ) .

  22. Jared Earle Says:

    So, what's the performance like on a first-gen iPhone? How about a 3G? Touting performance on the fastest of the Apple devices doesn't convince me it'll work on the slowest.

  23. Darwin Says:

    I don't want or need flash anywhere. It consumes too many resources, is sow and unstable, and a security sieve. I block it on everything including both PC and Mac desktops.

  24. EdStraker Says:

    It is a hack, and while it may make geeks and tinkerers happy, Apple doesn't support hacks on its App Store which means the vast majority of users will never use it.

  25. Tom B Says:

    The world is quickly moving away from Flash.
    "you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone/
    For the times they are a-changin’"

  26. IcyFog Says:

    I won't jail break an iDevice just so I can have crappy software on it. No thanks, I'll pass.

  27. Bob Says:

    So, exactly how does one go about playing "Alien Hominind" then? (since there are no arrow keys on the iDevices).

    Basically, Frash is good for Flash **animations** (i.e., adverts). Where do I sign up? Oh wait, that's not what I meant….

  28. Dan Says:

    I just started reading technologizer as it had a few good articles by informed people.

    After this absolute bullcrap by Ed, I won't be returning.

  29. Dan Says:

    I just started reading technologizer.

    After reading this ridiculous article by Ed, I won't be returning. You have no idea buddy, no idea.

  30. Fitness Says:

    I don’t wanna go into the HTML or Flash discussion. I find it really inappropiate that Apple doesn’t support Flash at all on the iPhone and iPad, consedering a lot of sites use this technology.

    Thanks for bringing Frash to change this!

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