• JavaScript Hack Runs (Some) Flash on iPhone

    Many users have complained about iPhone’s lack of support for Flash, claiming that it's a fundamental flaw with the phone's ability to access Internet content. Others have maintained that Flash itself is fundamentally flawed, a CPU hog that will crash AT&T's already strained network. Now, however, a developer has come up with a JavaScript workaround that will allow the iPhone to run Flash content, though only that which has been heavily modified.

    The script is called Gordon, in an homage to the Thirties sci-fi hero. Tobias Schneider, a programmer from Munich, developed the clever workaround,which is a runtime Flash emulator written in pure JavaScript. Since it's a script rather than an app, it doesn't run afoul of the iPhone SDK EULA section 3.3.2 prohibition against apps executing code... though Apple may have something to say about the project.

    The script does not provide true Flash support to the iPhone, as it only enables Flash files to be displayed within the iPhone’s Safari browser. And in order for the script to work correctly, the Flash must be embedded in HTML, and must incorporate Schneider’s code on every animation they want to display correctly on the iPhone. Only a subset of SWF tags are supported, and, as noted by TheAppleBlog, it's very CPU-intensive and a battery killer. Sill, if you want to see Flash on your phone, you can point your Safari browser to Paul Irish's site and take a look.

    It's a demo project, not a viable Flash replacement, obviously, and it's unlikely that the workaround will inspire many Flash developers to modify their content to run with this script. It is, clever, though, and it brings to light many of the up and downsides of Flash on this iPhone. By many people's estimation, Flash is the defacto standard for video on the Web, and the exclusion of it from the iPhone is a significant weakness. On the other side, the platform is inherently CPU-intense, and as John Gruber notes, Apple has little incentive to bring Flash support to the iPhone if it's not hurting sales... and it doesn't seem to.

    Adobe will include the ability to compile Flash animations as standalone apps with Adobe Flash Professional CS5. For the foreseeable future, at least, that functionality may prove more popular than a script workaround.

    image via @digitalgravy
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