Commentary

Time to bury Adobe Flash

After almost 20 years, it looks like the clock is finally counting down the hours on Adobe Flash - and I'll be glad to see it go.

Flash, a software program that runs video, animation and games on webpages, has long been a backbone component of the Internet, but one prone to vulnerabilities that hackers have exploited, almost at will.

Each issue is fixed promptly, but without fail, a new one seems to pop up every few months.

One such vulnerability surfaced recently from a hack into a cyber-surveillance company. The company, Hacking Team, was discovered to have used a flaw in Adobe's Flash software to break into PCs without the owners' knowledge.

Although Adobe released a patch for it, the tech community, including heavyweights Google, Facebook and Mozilla, are fed up with its ever-ending security flaws - and want Adobe to bury Flash. Forever.

A casual user may not know if his computer uses Flash, but there is a good chance that it does. Now here's the good news: Mobile devices do not.

That is a sign that the industry can move beyond Flash.

Apple famously rejected Flash on its mobile devices. So, software developers eager to get on board Apple's iOS platform came up with alternative methods to deliver video and animation to mobile devices.

Google supported Flash on Android devices for a while but not since version 4.1, Jelly Bean, in 2012. Nor do BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices use it.

If you surf the Web via smartphone or tablet and have rarely, if ever, come across an alert that Adobe Flash is required, it is safe to say your online world does not depend on that bit of flawed software.

It also means it is highly unlikely that you need Adobe Flash on a computer either.

There was a time when a laptop had to have a LAN port for connectivity, but the rise of Wi-Fi put paid to LAN.

Hardware companies are slowly moving away from multiple USB, HDMI and other ports on a laptop, in lieu of the new, more powerful USB-C connector. Complaints from users who insist on multiple ports are inevitable as the trend moves away from multiple ports.

Remember when SIM cards were way bigger than your thumbnail and users complained about being made to pay for replacement micro-SIM cards, or newer nano-SIM ones? Apple and Samsung are already beginning to explore the use of electronic SIMs.

I am testing a 2015 smart TV set whose remote control has no numeric buttons. It uses gestures instead. It took me a few days to get used to it, but a lightweight controller beats a heavy, old-school one any day.

My next move will be to remove Adobe Flash from my family's computers, though it will be over the objections of my wife, who enjoys the occasional Flash-based browser game.

I'll tell her it is because of a security flaw. What I won't tell her is that without her games, she can focus on other things at hand. And that can only be a good thing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Time to bury Adobe Flash'. Print Edition | Subscribe