The latest version of Flash (v10.2) has been released. And this is fantastic news, as it’s common knowledge that for most people using Flash, video sites like YouTube are a painful process. Why? It’s simply too intensive on CPU usage! Now if this version of Flash can actually address problems like CPU spikes and crappy video tearing, then we may have a winner. And before everyone starts going on about how wonderful HTML5 is and why it’s going to kill Flash, let me point this out. Until I can run Hulu or YouTube on my computer without Flash, I still need it. Sorry, but here we are.

What I am looking for from Flash Player 10.2?

Speed is the big thing. The kind of speed that makes me double check to see if it’s running, because showing promise beyond what HTML5 can deliver. While I haven’t installed 10.2 just yet, I am hopeful that we will see a massive CPU gain like the release notes for this Flash Player release are promising. I am also hoping that we will see the promise of enhanced video quality demonstrated as well.

Flash Player 10.2 Released
Photo by Robert Nyman

The single biggest thing, which I touched on above, is with tearing. I’m not even sure if this is something that is too video driver dependent, but the fact of the matter is that it’s an issue that I am seeing with Flash, not with codec containers. So when I play Hulu on a large screen, I don’t want to be bothered by any tearing at all. I’d like to actually sit back and enjoy my video as if I was enjoying it in a container supported by HTML5.

The future for Flash

To be brutally honest, Flash has a shot with Android and Android/Web games. But I am concerned it’s trying too hard with video in such a way as it may become a moot point down the line. While some places like Hulu love that the video can be played in a nice little DRM filled package thanks to Flash… this only matters on the desktop. On mobile and embedded devices, services like Netflix have taught us there is another way without Flash. The same protections are built in, too.

So the question is whether or not the latest release of Flash Player is too little too late? For desktop users in 2011, no. This is just what we needed. For everyone else, only time will tell. One thing Flash has going for it that I haven’t seen from HTML5 empowered video codecs: webcam support. Without this, HTML5 is a view-only kind of deal.