• My Experience with Flash on Android 2.2 (Froyo)

    Just saw this demo of Flash running on an Android phone:

    Techovia - Just How Bad is Flash on Android?

    Short answer: it's pretty bad.

    I didn't believe it was that bad, so I just loaded Flash (which I freely admit I hate) on my 8-week old EVO phone with a 1 Ghz CPU running the latest Android OS (Froyo). I had the same exact performance problems - video is unwatchable, even on Wifi.

    I tried running some lightweight Flash games too, thinking maybe it's just a video problem, but even those didn't run well. You can't play a game if it takes a second or more for the Flash game to register a tap or a button press.

    Adobe has got some work to do if they want Flash to remain a viable platform. Maybe in a year or two, when phone processors are up to 2Ghz? My guess is that it may be too late then.

    Android and iPhone apps have become almost a standard way to get content on phones. I'd much rather use an app on my phone than use the web. And a native app is always going to run faster than Flash on any of these phones.

    Which leads me to think that I better add apps to my programming toolbox.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. arraknid's Avatar
      arraknid -
      My view is that the .flv format has always been the worst choice as a container for video files. It's not what Flash was designed for, but YouTube's adoption of it as their de facto standard has made it almost universal. That may have been pressure from Adobe, who knows, but when it was adopted, streaming to mobile devices wasn't a serious requirement.

      Nowadays, things are different, and streaming to mobile devices is almost as important as streaming to more powerful desktop and laptop machines. Unfortunately, technology has yet to catch up. There isn't yet a viable format that will carry that amount of data and can be successfully processed by mobile devices. Even on a 1 Ghz device, Android is using quite a lot of that, so there's little left for video decoding.

      It's a pity that, only now, research into better formats has begun, but it'll take time. Adobe came up with F4V, but take up has been virtually non-existant, and development slow.

      Authors of Flash Player strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard file format F4V (ISO base media file format). There are functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264 or AAC which could not be overcome without a redesign of the file format. This is one reason why Adobe Systems is moving away from the traditional FLV file structure.
      Until websites like YouTube et al make the change, we're stuck with the status quo. They have decided to go with HTML5, but that's some way off yet.
    1. Osc's Avatar
      Osc -
      It's not just the FLV container though - all Flash content, whether video or games or website, FLV or SWF, is slow and pretty much unusable on my new phone.

      However, when I try to view video in h.264 or HTML5 on my phones, whether it be iPhone, Android, or iPad, it works flawlessly. Clearly, the phones have plenty of horsepower to decode the video. It is the Flash player itself that is causing the bottleneck.

      I think that Adobe has to act fast - the press is pummeling them right now over this. It's clear that the Flash plugin for Android is like Windows ME - too bogged down by legacy code to be useful. They need to release a rebuilt-from-scratch binary that will play FLVs and SWFs as fast as the Apple phones can play video. Otherwise the world will move on, quickly.