Does the iPad Have a Flash Player?

By Anne Hirsh

The iPad does not support Flash programming, so there is no Flash player available in its native software or for download from the App Store. A few apps claim to allow Flash support, but these are often limited to Flash animations and ads on websites. However, many Flash-based sites offer iPad apps to view their content in compatible formats.

Video Apps

Popular video sites like YouTube use Flash video on their computer-based sites, but the iPad has a built-in YouTube app that offers the same videos in a converted format that works on the iPad. Other popular video services like Netflix and Hulu also offer iPad apps, although these services may be more limited than the computer-based versions.

Reasoning

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has offered multiple reasons for not including Flash support on the iPad. Prime among these is Flash's instability and tendency to cause computer crashes. He also says that it is an outdated system that relies on a decoder not available in modern mobile computing chips, so it requires additional software. This can decrease performance and battery life. Some Flash programming requires mouse gestures that are not compatible with the iPad's touch interface, so for these reasons and others Apple chose not to support Flash on the iPad.

Workarounds

New apps are released daily on the App Store, so if you have specific Flash needs, such as viewing a website that uses rollover technology, you may find an app that features support for such limited Flash features or for specific Flash-based games. Another option is to use any of the multiple remote desktop apps available for the iPad. These apps let you control your computer through the iPad, viewing everything that is on your computer's screen and controlling it as if you were using the computer directly. This lets you use your computer's Flash player to view content on your iPad. Effectiveness and ease of setup varies among remote desktop apps, but you can find them by searching for "RDP" (remote desktop protocol) in the App Store. Virtual network connection (VNC) apps also work for this purpose.

Outlook

Apple has not announced any plans for future support of Flash, but Adobe and Google both offer Flash-to-HTML5 converters. HTML5 is a Web programming standard that's compatible with the iPad, so you can view video content, animations and other Internet features without additional software plug-ins or apps. As of the date of publication, these converters focus on delivering Flash ad content to mobile devices, but Adobe has also released live streaming video for mobile devices including the iPad, also using HTML5.