What the Final End of Flash in 2020 Means for You and the Internet

While the announcement has long been in the works, Adobe is finally officially ending support for Flash by the end of 2020. Many platforms have prepared by blocking Flash, but there are still some that continue to use the player and will have the option to continue to do so into 2021 as the final version will still be available. Updates will stop on December 31, 2020, however, so they’ll have to make a change or take Flash as is: for better or for worse.

The end of Flash is hardly a surprise for those who have been keeping tabs on the software (or at least on how often it needs to be updated). Luckily, since that end has been well anticipated, Flash will be going out with more of a whisper than a bang. But is there a suitable replacement for the once widespread platform, and what will be the fate of so many games and media sites that were built in the golden age of Flash?

Past Predictions and Future Results

Discussion about bringing support Flash to an end was first brought to the table by Adobe as early as 2017, although criticism of the software in tech circles had been persistent for years prior. Security breaches, poor performance, and frequent updates as well as crashes were just some of the complaints from users regularly and with more frequency as the platform aged.

Popularity and Liability

In its earliest iterations, in the 1990s, Flash was used as an easy way to animate and share videos. By 2005, when Adobe acquired it, Flash had become one of the most popular multimedia platforms worldwide. Lots of well-known and loved games and websites were built using Flash, like Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Nike Air, Newgrounds, and plenty of online casino games, just like those at Betsafe Casino.

Despite the popularity of the software, however, there is one major flaw that eventually made most big-name browsers and developers consider it undeniably unusable: security risk. Performance issues are one thing, knowingly exposing your users to a security breach is another. Adobe tried to keep up with security concerns by frequently updating the Flash plug-in, but part of the problem is that it is a browser plug-in and people are not forced to update it.

Apple, iOS, and Opposition

Complaints like these caused quite the ripple when they appeared in a public letter written by Steve Jobs, explaining his decision to exclude Flash from iOS and Apple devices. At the time, there was quite a bit of controversy about the letter, with some accusing Steve Jobs of lying about Flash and hypocrisy. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that he was right, at least about the functionality and future of Flash. This conflict between Apple and Adobe may have been the catalyst we have to thank for the quiet end to Flash.

Shortly after the letter was released, Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen responded to Steve Jobs’ “Thoughts on Flash” confidently, dismissing the claims presented and refusing to address the main complaint involving security risks. Apple ended up removing third-party restrictions for iOS later in the year. Then, in 2011 Adobe announced it would no longer be developing a Flash plug-in for mobile web browsers, instead opting to shift its focus towards creating tools for mobile app development.

Making the Change

All of this means that for the average online user, the end of Flash really isn’t the end of the world. Most of the up-to-date corners of the internet have already adjusted, switching to HTML5. Adobe has even offered software to convert Flash objects to HTML5 content for free to help those who haven’t made the change yet. Others are turning to open sources like JavaScript and CSS, or a combination of creativity and different platforms to transition well before the end-of-life date.

The End of an Era

Although most (including Adobe) would agree that this retirement is well overdue for the Flash player, it will be remembered fondly. Despite all its shortcomings, Flash helped to build an entire age that the internet collectively grew up on and it won’t be forgotten any time soon.

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