When Google starts rolling out version 53 of its Chrome browser next month (September), that will effectively mark the end of the road for one of the oldest technologies still in use, Flash. At least on the browser.
Flash is infamous for not just slowing down sites and browsers but also putting users at risk thanks to its many security loopholes. And now it appears that Google, just like Apple did many years ago (read what Steve Jobs thought about Flash here), has had enough. Only that since so many sites still have Flash content that needs to be properly rendered and delivered to the end user, Google can’t wake up one morning and pull the plug on Flash. But it will soon be getting there.
Google will now start prioritizing HTML5 content on its Chrome browser over Flash going forward for all multimedia content. By December when version 55 of the browser starts rolling out, all Flash content will be unsupported with the only exception to the rule being sites that are meant to only support Flash content.
According to Anthony LaForge, the curator of Flash on Chrome at Google, as a result, “You’ll see an improvement in responsiveness and efficiency for many sites.”
Google has traditionally supported Flash on its Chrome browser by default over the years (you actually needed to install a separate Flash plugin in order to play Flash content on other browsers like Firefox and Silverlight for Internet Explorer. On Chrome? Nothing, just load your web page and go). However, thanks to its increasing vulnerability and the need by users for a browser with better efficiency (speed) and battery management, it has become increasingly difficult for the company to justify continued support for the technology. Never mind that HTML5 has gained popularity over the years at Flash’s expense.
Mid last year, Google started pausing all non-essential Flash content on web pages so as to improve performance and its latest stance is only going to escalate things further.
Other browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox have also been shifting from Flash content even though it noticeably lags behind Google’s Chrome in this regard. For instance, starting this month (August), Firefox is also pausing all non-essential Flash content from auto-playing when a new browser window or tab is opened. By 2017, Firefox will require users to “click to activate” Flash every time a new web page or tab is loaded. That is exactly what Apple’s Safari browser does at the moment since the browser was updated in the latest macOS Sierra. Microsoft is also doing the same with the new browser on Windows 10, Edge.
The end result of such moves is to push site owners away from content that requires video plugins that can put users’ security at risk while also affecting performance. And that effectively means what we’ve all known was coming: Adobe Flash’s death.