Chrome 53, the latest update to the Google Chrome browser, is set to be introduced next month, and it could spell trouble for sites built through Adobe Flash, or even those incorporating elements of the now outdated multimedia platform.
Google has confirmed in a blog post that the September update will see its browser begin to block Flash content. By December and the introduction of Chrome 55, it will default to HTML5 in preference to Flash, which Google says “slows you down” with its interference in web analytics and other back-end component of sites.
What’s the problem with Flash?
Flash, as Google points out in the blog post, has played an important role in the development of the internet, but it has gradually become a source of annoyance for many web users. This is largely due to its sluggish loading speed and the amount of battery power that Flash sites consume when using a mobile internet connection, together with their generally poor mobile optimisation.
Web developers may argue that Flash was never meant to be used to build websites at all. It was originally intended as a tool for online graphics and animation, but the ‘00s saw it become heavily used as the backbone of websites for companies as large as Disney, Nike and Nokia. Its relative simplicity and then eye-catching aesthetics made this seem a shrewd move, but it proved something of a short-sighted one, as the tool failed to keep pace with the loading speeds web users came to expect.
Compatibility has historically been an issue too. People accessing the internet using Mac computers, iPads or iPhones are sure to have run into their fair share of Flash frustration due to a long-running disagreement between Apple and Adobe, with the late Steve Jobs making his opinions on Flash very clear in a 2010 open letter.
What will this mean for the internet?
Considering the above, it would be easy to understand why the move may be seen as a progressive one. However, with Chrome being the most popular web browser in the world and the obvious choice of the Android phone user, and Flash used by 8.1% of all sites according to W3Techs.com, it could pose major headaches for website owners who are still reliant on the creaking Adobe platform.
Additionally, that statistic from W3Techs.com suggests that roughly one in twelve of the sites we visit incorporates Flash elements. As Chrome gradually gets to grips with these sites, it could mean a restrictive browsing experience in the early days of this Flash crackdown.
How do I find out whether my site uses Flash?
If you’re not sure whether your site has any Flash or not, here’s a handy online tool that can give you a score between 0-100 on the scale of Flash avoidance.
Should your site be 100% Flash free, the tool will give you a nice little ‘Congratulations!’ and you needn’t worry any further. If any Flash is found though, it’s something you should consider looking into in order to avoid being snubbed by today’s most popular internet browser.
If you have concerns about any Flash elements of your site, or anything else that may be causing it to provide a slow or awkward browsing experience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Engage Web.