Cross-Tablet Compatibility?

March 6, 2014

For many (including us here at Educade) Flash remains one of the strongest and most versatile options available for rich, interactive applications. But times are changing, in part due to the refusal of Apple to support Flash on their mobile devices, and also because of the more general quest by developers to adopt universal web standards, supporting languages such as HTML5 as a way of keeping the playing field level.

The landscape is further complicated by the proliferation of mobile devices which make use of native apps. For users, the native app has clear advantages: it’s been designed to work on specific devices, tailor-made for the device in your hand.
Yet, for anyone thinking of building a new application, the fact that mobile apps are limited to their native platform poses the tricky question of which platform to develop for…. and at what cost?

For many schools and colleges, use of tablets in the classroom is steadily growing. The cross-over presents many challenges such as security, networking, and app distribution. One of the questions we get asked all the time is: Will our resource work on both desktops and tablets?

Even a cursory glance across the range of educational resources that are on offer on the internet reveals that the traditional development tool of choice has been Flash. The most pronounced drawback is that if you access a Flash app on an iPad or iPhone it won’t work. Moreover, Flash Player will not be certified for any Android device beyond 4.0.x. In short, two of the largest mobile OS platforms no longer support Flash.

This is real minefield for anyone thinking of building new online resources. Our first advice would be to think long and hard about how your resource will be used well into the future. Talk to your colleagues; ask them who thinks desktop computer will remain the platform of choice in schools and colleges.

Who is Flash-Friendly?

The latest version of the Adobe Flash Player runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, RIM, QNX and Google TV.

Earlier versions run on Android 2.2-4.0.x (Flash has been released for 4.0, but Adobe has announced that they will discontinue support for Android 4.1 and higher.[41]) (Flash 11.2), PlayStation 3 (Flash 9), PSP (Flash 6). Adobe Flash Lite runs on Wii, Symbian, Maemo Linux, Windows Mobile, and Chumby.

Apple does not allow Flash to run on iOS, the operating system which runs on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and Apple TV. Apple stated that it has no plans to do so.[42]

In February 2012, Adobe announced it would discontinue development of Flash Player on Linux for all browsers except Google Chrome by dropping the support for NPAPI and using only Chrome’s PPAPI

Taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_HTML5_and_Flash, March 2014

So what’s the solution to get cross-tablet compatibility as well as desktop?

If you require you resource to work across every platform, from desktop web browsers to iPads, here at Educade we support the movement towards the languages of HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3. These so-called “vendor-neutral” languages are free from the constraints of any one particular device. It is perfectly possible to build a web-browser based application that works on desktops, mobiles and tablets using these languages. It may not be able to make use of all the native functions of a mobile/tablet app, such as camera features or geo-location, but what it truly gains is cross-platform support.

The additional time and costs of targeting vendor-specific platforms should make anybody who is considering investing in new educational resources pause for thought. By using an openly-produced and vendor-neutral language, resources can reach far wider audiences, as well as supporting the onward march towards universal web standards.

Perhaps it’s time to update your Flash resources and convert them into HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3

Educade can help! Send us an email or give us a call to find out how.

Here is a useful Wikipedia page that compares HTML5 with Flash