In a move that was a long time coming, Google has now officially blocked Adobe Flash Player on Chrome. This means that content that needs Flash to run will require permission. Google moved gradually with this decision. They announced the plan in August and starting blocking Flash-based pages but it’s beginning with Chrome 55 where it has now truly bid farewell to Flash.
While HTML5 is now officially the content player for Chrome version 55, this doesn’t mean that Flash is gone permanently. Given that a number of sites still use Flash to display content, it makes sense to still leave it there. This time, however, it is disabled by default and users will have to enable it manually in order for a site to play its Flash content. Not only that, users will have to do the giving of permissions for every site.
So what happens to a site that runs on Flash? Content won’t display. This is where the manual permission giving comes into play. Since doing so would be rather tedious, Google has a plan mapped out. For now, they are enabling HTML5 for 1% of Chrome 55 users.
Starting January of 2017, users will be asked to run Flash on every site they have never visited. Restrictions would be tightened through what’s called the Site Engagement Index, a heuristic that uses a user’s browsing activity to determine how much they interact with a particular site.
In February 2017, Chrome 56 – the next major version – will be in its Stable stage. Currently, this version is available in the beta channel and those who are interested can test it out. For the beta test version, HTML5 has been enabled for 50% of users. By the time February hits, all users will have HTML5 enabled.
Google is hardly the first company who has bid farewell to Flash. Facebook switched to HTML5 for video content across all browsers in 2015. Even Adobe itself has encouraged users to turn to HTML5 for delivering content on the web. So given this turn of events, it’s not a surprise that Google would follow suit by completely abandoning Flash. It clearly has now begun but will be fully realized by 2017 with Chrome 56.
Chrome 55 is available on desktop computers running Mac, Windows and Linux. In addition, the version is also available for devices that run on iOS and Android. While there are changes that are applicable across platforms, there are also changes specific to a particular platform. For example, iOS users have requested for the removal of the All Bookmarks folder and that was granted. Android users, on the other hand, are now allowed to download music, videos and full web pages for offline viewing.
Apart from abandoning Flash, Chrome 55 also fixes an issue where the browser uses up a whole lot of memory. With version 55 now officially out, eyes are now turned towards Chrome 56 which is currently in beta mode. A version 57 is also in the works in the Development Channel.