Google Chrome will start blocking all Flash content next month

August 10, 2016 – 4:04 PM

Flash was an integral part of the internet in years past, but it has also been a drag on performance and the source of a great many security vulnerabilities. Today, HTML5 is a better way to get the same sort of interactive content running on the web, and it works on mobile devices. The next phase in Adobe Flash’s agonizingly slow demise starts next month when Google Chrome begins blocking all Flash content.

This will come as part of the Chrome 53 update, which should be available in early September. Chrome 53 will block all the small, non-visible Flash elements on web pages. These are usually tacking platforms and page analytics, but they can slow down page loads just like larger Flash content. This is not Google’s first attempt to de-emphasize Flash on the web. Last year in Chrome 52, Google made most Flash content “click-to-play.”

So, what’s different now? In Chrome 52, the Flash block only applied to Flash objects that were above a certain size, but now that’s being extended to smaller Flash objects. The previous restriction was in place because at the time, there was no reliable way to detect viewability. Now, Chrome’s intersection observer API allows that. You will have the option to enable Flash objects on a page if they are necessary for the experience. If non-visible Flash objects are blocked, an icon in the address bar will alert you.

Google says that all Chrome users will see a benefit from this move. All the Flash objects loading in the background can make page loading sluggish. If you’re on a laptop, Flash also gobbles up power and reduces your battery life. Flash’s innate inefficiency is why it never took off on mobile devices.


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