Unlike the earlier models, Apple decided against offering a pre-installed version of Flash on the new model citing the need for users to keep their computers updated with the latest version of Flash.
Though Apple's decision does not seem to have been influenced by its stance on Flash for Mobile devices, the move has nevertheless triggered the debate on Flash performance once again. In a recent article reviewing the new Macbook Air, Chris Foresman from Ars Technica critically examined the effect of Adobe Flash on battery life and concluded that Flash could quite be the battery hog that Apple has claimed it to be. Foresman wrote:
"Having Flash installed can cut battery runtime considerably – as much as 33 percent in our testing. With a handful of websites loaded in Safari, Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary, and the best time I recorded with Flash installed was just 4 hours. After deleting Flash, however, the MacBook Air ran for 6:02 – with the exact same set of websites reloaded in Safari, and with static ads replacing the CPU-sucking Flash versions."
While this conclusion does sound alarming, Foresman may have erred in assuming that the alternative to loading Flash-based websites is in viewing these sites with Flash blocked. This conclusion is erroneous because rich media ad formats are here to stay and hence the right alternative to Flash ads is in viewing the same content using other technologies like HTML5. Commenting on Ars Technica's findings, Kevin Lynch, the CTO at Adobe, claimed that Adobe Flash offered a better battery life than alternate technologies like HTML5. Lynch said:
"It's a false argument to make, of the power usage. When you're displaying content, any technology will use more power to display, versus not displaying content. If you used HTML5, for example, to display advertisements, that would use as much or more processing power than what Flash uses."
Kevin Lynch has made a very pertinent point. However, with the proliferation of smartphones and portable computers like the Macbook Air that come with limited battery capacity, the need for Adobe to build battery efficient software is higher than ever before. Until manufacturers are able to build gadgets that come with sufficiently higher battery power and software makers like Adobe are able to build products that consume significantly lesser power, this debate on battery efficiency might just linger on.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this debate in the comments section below.[via Ars Technica, Fast Company]