Could mobile devices be strong enough for old good flash in the future?

Every year stronger mobile devices are released into retail market. Do you thing, in the future (distant or not) the mobile devices could have strong enough CPUs for old good flash with vector graphics?

Humm the question is not well phrased imho

it is not that if the mobile are strong enough to run the Flash runtime
it is more can you do the equivalent of the Flash runtime on mobile’s browser

Mobile are strong enough to run AIR runtime (which is not exactly like the Flash runtime)

  • under Android, the AIR runtime load dynamically a SWF file and execute it
  • under iOS, the SWF and the AIR runtime are cross-compiled and merged ultimately into a native iOS binary

Apple no matters what forbid anyone to run anything else than what they allow them to run

  • if you need to run something like a browser you HAVE TO use the iOS Webkit
    can’t use Chrome, can’t use Firefox
  • only thing that Apple allow to dynamically interpret is JavaScript, anything else is forbidden

Anyway, by 2020, with the EOL of Flash, the desktop browsers will all ban ANY browser plugins,
so they will certainly not support them on mobile either.

This is the lure that is given to web developers today:

you don’t need plugins, you only need HTML/CSS/JS and the Web API

maybe later WebAssembly will be a bit more democratised, but even there it will not magically let developers access low-level functionalities like sockets or file system.

Simply put, as of today, whether mobile are strong enough or not, whether HTML5 is ready to replace Flash or not, you can not implement flash.net.Socket because you simply do not have access to the lower-level network stack, and you can not implement it with WebAssembly either.

And it would be the same for numerous things defined under the flash.* package.

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Please, allow me to rephrase my question…

I am not talking about flash plugin.

is more a game problem than a Flash/AIR problem

look at games in general
you always need a new Direct X, you always need a bigger graphic card,
you always want moar GPU power, etc.

I mean seriously, on desktop and laptop you have machines special for gamers
and yes it does not translate well to mobile

If you want to remove the need for GPU just target different kind of games
something like Machinarium for example
see Flash-Based Machinarium Game is Now #1 iPad App, Delivered Using Adobe AIR

Or take the opposite view, it is not because you have unlimited GPU power that building games will become automatically easy and/or successful, you will still have to optimize, you will still have to work very hard, promote it etc.

Whether it is AIR or not, whether you have to use GPU or not, does not really matters.

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You can export an AIR android project in CPU mode and do your tests.
I do believe now the average android phone can render regular CPU Flash content like a laptop from 2008, but it will drain the battery.
Anyway, on Android, it IS the good old flash player, alas packaged inside an app.

Tablets and some phones were strong enough for good old flash for a long time. Read a little history about the Blackberry Playbook.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is a mini tablet computer developed by BlackBerry and made by Quanta Computer, an original design manufacturer (ODM)[1][2] It was first released for sale on April 19, 2011, in Canada and the United States.

The PlayBook is the first device to run BlackBerry Tablet OS, based on QNX Neutrino, and runs apps developed using Adobe AIR.[3] It was later announced that the BlackBerry Tablet OS would be merged with the existing BlackBerry OS to produce a new operating system, BlackBerry 10, that would be used universally across BlackBerry’s product line. A second major revision to the BlackBerry PlayBook OS was released in February 2012.[4] The PlayBook also supports Android OS applications, allowing them to be sold and installed through the BlackBerry App World store.[5]

Rumors about the forthcoming computer, nicknamed the ‘BlackPad’ in the press because of its expected similarity to Apple’s competing iPad, had circulated for several months before the announcement.[9][10] Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis and Adobe Systems CTO Kevin Lynch staged the first public demonstration of the PlayBook on October 25, 2010,[11] onstage at the opening-day keynote of the Adobe MAX 2010 conference.

Among the features demonstrated was its tight integration with and support for Adobe AIR applications and full Flash support. According to Lazaridis, “We’re not trying to dumb down the internet for a mobile device. What we’ve done is bring up mobile devices to the level of desktop computers.” Lazaridis then announced at the end of his presentation that developers who get Adobe AIR applications approved on BlackBerry App World would be eligible for free BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.[12] Since then, the free PlayBook offer has been extended to include WebWorks applications.

I had received one of these tablets from the company and developed a few apps for it. It was a great tablet IMO.

It was not typical as Flash in the browser because AIR was integrated in some way directly or indirectly. But it showed Flash could run just as fast and smooth with support and at Adobe events Flash was running on phones fine very early on.

Even old phones like Samsung Galaxy S were able to run Flash apps fine (some) and this was in 2010. Flash is mainly drawing and moving vectors, bitmaps and text around.

But like zwetan said, performant apps and games are mostly up to the developer.

But for perspective, yes, phones are much faster now. I had an old 2011 laptop that ran an online benchmark of 60-70 or something. In store the ~2016 iPhones were around 89. Now Apple has game center for iPhones where you can attach an XBox controller.

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yep, let me add a little something

long time ago I posted this Memory and Performance

in the different resources you have this great post
Performance-tuning Adobe AIR applications
by Oliver Goldman

in this post he illustrates clearly the following

The optimization process

With goals and metrics in place you’re ready to optimize. The process itself is straightforward and should be familiar. Repeat these three steps until done:

  1. Measure
  2. Analyze
  3. Modify

Broadly speaking, analysis can lead you to one of two kinds of changes: design or code.


With that in mind, I see often Flash/AIR/AS3 developers complaining about performance where their attitude is “I will not change the design, the runtime HAS TO provide the perfromance” as if they could get access to unlimited performance.

Such thing, unlimited performance, does not exists.

One way or another you will always be limited by something, and at the same time you will always try to push higher this and higher that.

For me the problem is not if mobile or whatever device is performant enough to do this or that, anything imho is performant enough, but it does not come free, the developers have to be willing to change the design to fit the performance that are available to them.

And too often I see dev not willing at all to change or adapt that design, and focusing solely on the performance of the code.

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