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Test shows Flash 10.1 bogging down Android 2.2 [video]

updated 12:25 pm EDT, Mon May 24, 2010

Faster Android hurt specifically by Flash

Adobe's launch of Flash 10.1 for Android is almost single-handedly responsible for slowing down the experience of the browser and the Android phone themselves, early adopters have discovered in a test. While Flash is installed, the browser on a Nexus One is slower to load content than both an iPhone and an HTC HD2. Android 2.2 is significantly faster without the plugin, but the OS with Flash installed bogs down PocketNow's phone to where it produces a low memory error after visiting only a few websites.

The plugin is still in a beta stage and has room for optimization, but some of the slowdown can be attributed to Flash itself. As the files sometimes range into megabytes rather than the kilobytes of many regular pages, they not only take more time to download but consume the relatively limited memory available to smartphones. Some newer Android phones have 512MB or even 1GB of RAM, but Android's higher memory usage combined with Flash needs can push the limits of the plaform.

When dismissing Flash in the short term, Apple's Steve Jobs referred to performance and stability as two of the most important issues. Demos have been shown with Flash on Android running at least some websites well, but usually only for short instances and some sites deliberately excluded. Hulu blocks Android and tends to run slowly when active as its video isn't optimized for lower-speed processors.

by MacNN Staff



  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Who'd a thunk it? Why is Google including it by default with Android 2.2 Froyo if merely having it installed significantly slows down the browser performance and stability? Personally, I wouldn't want Flash anywhere near my phone browser. The last thing I need is a bunch of constant self-initiating animated content sucking down my battery, and a poorly written Flash runtime sucking down my very limited memory.

  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Couldn't have said it any better...

    Wow is right!

  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Being open will fix everything

    No need to worry, I'm sure this is some anomaly that isn't Adobe's fault; and because Android and Flash are open-platforms their developer community will fix this problem in no time at all. And all Android users will have a new blazing Flash experience updated on their handsets before the end of the week right?

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Shocked, I tell ya!

    This sort of thing has never been encountered before. I blame Apple! ;)

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    And in a recent email response from sJobs....

    "Told ya so"

    j/k ;)

  1. rbodgers

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too Expensive

    MacNN (this article) - 2/3 flash files were ads
    MacNN (main page) - 5/5 flash files were ads (main page) - 3/4 flash files were ads
    BBC - 1/1 flash file was an ad
    CNN - 6/6 flash files were ads
    WebMD - 1/1 flash file was an ad

    The vast majority of the flash I stumble upon during an average day is strictly advertising. I am hard-pressed to lobby for flash, when the vast majority of it is something that is completely irrelevant to my surfing. I simply refuse - as long as I can - to use my hard-earned battery power to pay for someone else's advertising.

    I know there are web sites out there that actually use flash for some great stuff. But in my day-to-day surfing, the vast majority of the flash I load (or block, as the case may be) is for advertising. Don't get me wrong: I see the need for advertising. Free websites don't pay for themselves. But until flash uses about as much power as a gif, flash ads on my phone are simply too expensive.

  1. Foxypaco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    As as Web Designer/Developer...

    I don't dislike Flash. Flash has it's uses. Truth is unless you're doing something in Flash that requires a lot of Actionscripting, you can most likely achieve the same effect using HTML, CSS, Javascript, JQuery, AJAX, etc.

    Over the years, I noticed that Flash made web designers lazy. Instead of making the navigation bar in CSS or Javascript, many designers started doing them in Flash. Then designers started doing whole sites in Flash. (shakes head) Actually, I noticed that the majority of Flash-based websites were in the entertainment industry. If a big name celebrity, athlete or musician had their site in Flash, than that's what was in and what people wanted.

    I'm finally glad the Internet is moving away from that. All thanks to Adobe's failure to get Flash working on Mac's properly. Because if they did, Flash would be on the iPhone/iPad already.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Jobs Must Be Smiling

    But it's not his style to say "Told Ya So" :) Or he would have said it to Michael Dell.

    Some people forget that Apple has some VERY smart engineers. There is no reason for them to LIE to Mr. Jobs. There is, however, every reason for Adobe to try to obfuscate matters, they paid a lot of money for Macromedia products and no doubt it made them money in the "short term." Times are a changin'.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Surprise, surprise

    Well, given that Flash ads alone (which are darn near ubiquitous) cause my 2-processor 1GHz desktop Mac with 1.5GB RAM to run downright miserably, and my 2-core 2GHz laptop with 2GB RAM to run noticeably worse, it's hardly a surprise that it's going to play havoc with a mobile browser regardless of the hardware.

    Yes, Flash 10.1 is beta, but I'm skeptical how much better it's going to get when you throw three or four separate, poorly-coded ads at it on a single page. Unless, of course, they build Flashblock-like functionality into it, which would be ironic to put it mildly.

    I do find it moderately hilarious that THIS is Adobe's answer to Apple's complaints about Flash performance. As a few others have said: "Hey, Adobe, want to force Apple to have Flash on mobile? Make a version for another mobile platform that's so smooth and awesome that everybody demands it. Then Apple will probably acquiesce."

    Instead they give us something that brings a top-of-the-line smartphone to its knees, beta or not. Ouch.

  1. tfmeehan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I have it...

    ...on good authority that Jobs influenced the results.

    Of the people conducting the tests, most he convinced to come over to the dark side, his dystopic vision for mobile technology. The rest he simply threatened to send his personal police force to kick in their doors and haul them away.

    How draconian can you get?

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