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2/22/2010
00:10 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Flash And Touch Screens Don't Mix?

There has been a lot of discussion about Adobe's Flash on mobile devices. It is deemed so critical to the web that Apple was forced to stop advertising that the iPhone could access "all of the web" when it didn't support Flash. One blogger doesn't think that Flash belongs on any touch-only device.

There has been a lot of discussion about Adobe's Flash on mobile devices. It is deemed so critical to the web that Apple was forced to stop advertising that the iPhone could access "all of the web" when it didn't support Flash. One blogger doesn't think that Flash belongs on any touch-only device.Daniel Dilger wrote at RoughlyDrafted Magazine that the problem with Flash on a touch screen device is a problem that Adobe, Apple and other mobile device makers cannot solve. The mouseover or hover issue is the show stopper. You simply cannot hover over a touch screen device to activate Flash features. He argues:

"All that Apple and Adobe could ever do is make current Flash content visible. It would be seen, but very often would not work. Users would hate that broken promise much more than they hate gaps in pages, missing banner ads, and the need to download a game once from the App Store instead of re-downloading it every time they visit a Flash game page."

While technically he may be correct, I don't think it is worse than nothing. First of all, I personally despise Flash based menus. Either it is totally dysfunctional or no one is doing it right. I hate having to move my mouse very carefully through menu trees where one wrong drift of the cursor causes the entire menu to collapse, forcing you to start over. That doesn't work on a PC with a mouse, so I wouldn't expect it to work on any other device either.

One of the biggest uses of Flash is of course videos. YouTube is powered by flash and to enjoy a video, recognizing a mouseover isn't necessary. Yes, some sites pop up VCR controls when you hover over the video, but that isn't always a deal breaker in viewing a 2 minute clip. It also isn't the only way for sites to enable controls on videos. If Flash came to the iPhone, iPad or any other touch based mobile device, video publishers would adopt touch friendly controls.

The author also cites other examples, such as mystery buttons that you have no idea what they do until you hover the cursor over them. This too is infuriating and just bad practice.

I am not saying there is no reason for the hover or mouseover feature, but it shouldn't be so pervasive that it breaks the new breed of touch devices. If Adobe can finally get Flash on mobile devices after threatening to do so for a few years, it may finally break the bad habits of Flash publishers that inappropriately rely on the hover and mouseover technique.

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