Flash

Adobe will kill off Flash in 2020

Flash's demise continues unabated with yesterday's news that its maker Adobe will be winding down development and distribution of the Flash plugin and related software at the end of 2020.

Acknowledging that most browser vendors today are integrating capabilities once provided by the resource-hungry Flash and Shockwave plugins directly into their browsers and deprecating plugins, Adobe's confirmed it's now planning to end-of-life Flash.

“Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to the open formats” such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly, reads Adobe's statement.

The company will continue issuing regular security patches through the end of 2020 to maintain compatibility while adding features and capabilities “as needed”.

So, how does this affect you?

Folks who regularly visit websites that have migrated from Flash to open web standards shouldn’t notice much difference. If a website continues to use Adobe's plugin, and you give it explicit permission to run Flash, it will continue working through the end of 2020.

Apple wrote on its WebKit blog that for its users the transition from Flash began in 2010 when Flash was no longer pre-installed on Macs. “Apple is working with Adobe, industry partners and developers to complete this transition,” wrote the iPhone maker.

Flash Player poses a major security risk due to a bunch of vulnerabilities that expose your Mac to malware and other attacks. Thankfully, you can safely remove Flash Player from your computer because most websites do not use it anymore.

TUTORIAL: How to remove Adobe Flash from your Mac

Apple reminded developers that Safari's WebKit rendering engine features a number of modern technologies for interactive experiences that don't require a plugin, like:

HTML Video and Media Source Extensions support a wide range of video experiences, including short clips, longer content and live streaming. HTML Canvas and WebGL provide fast, dynamic graphics for games and interactive experiences. CSS Transitions and Animations add polished animations to web interfaces. WebRTC enables real-time peer-to-peer video. WebAssembly allows games and other compute-intensive applications to run faster.

Facebook said it's working with its partners to come up with a migration path for developers that use Flash to power their games on Facebook.

Google said that three years ago, 80 percent of desktop Chrome users visited a site with Flash each day. Today, usage is only 17 percent and continues to decline, the search giant added.

Microsoft called it the end of an era, saying it will gradually phase out Flash support across its Edge and Internet Explorer browsers ahead of the cutoff date. The process began already for Edge with Click-to-Run for Flash in Windows 10 Creators Update.

And finally, browser maker Mozilla has updated its ​published roadmap​ for Flash in Firefox.

“Starting next month, users will choose which websites are able to run the Flash plugin,” it said. Flash will be disabled by default “for most users” of the Firefox browser in 2019.

“In order to preserve user security, once Flash is no longer supported by Adobe security patches, no version of Firefox will load the plugin,” reads Mozilla's blog post.

Flash's death couldn't have come sooner: for 20 years, Adobe's proprietary plugin has powered games, videos and apps on the web, sending our notebook's fans into overdrive and contributing greatly to the battery drain. Safari on macOS Sierra and later disables the Flash plugin by default, requiring explicit approval on each website before running Flash.

The fact that Flash was never supported by iOS, the world's most popular operating system, has certainly helped doom Adobe's software and hasten its demise, especially given the size and appealing demographics of iOS users.

Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs famously disparaged Adobe's technology back in April 2010 via his highly controversial open letter, innocently titled “Thoughts on Flash”.

Steve's letter, still available on Apple's website, was in response to Adobe’s public criticism of Apple for omitting the technology from its iOS products. It sent the stubborn Photoshop maker through the roof, prompting it to port the Flash Player to the rival Android platform.

Six years ago, Adobe stopped developing Flash Player for Android.

I'm sure that somewhere Apple's late co-founder is grinning from ear to ear.

Shortages of 3D NAND flash chips for 2017 iPhones forcing Apple to turn to Samsung, again

Apple's upcoming iPhone models—the OLED-based iPhone 8 and the iterative LCD-based iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus handsets—have been hit in a global shortage of 3D NAND flash chips, forcing the Cupertino giant to call on Samsung in an effort to secure more.

According to a new report Thursday from DigiTimes, the overall supply of 3D NAND flash components for 2017 iPhones has fallen short of Apple's orders by as much as thirty percent.

That's because the company's current flash chip suppliers SK Hynix and Toshiba have both experienced lower-than-expected yield rates for their 3D NAND technologies.

SK Hynix is among the bidders for Toshiba’s lucrative flash chip unit.

Here's an excerpt from the DigiTimes report:

Apple has turned to Samsung for more NAND chip supplies for its upcoming phones, since Samsung has relatively stable yield rates for 3D NAND technology and has scaled up its output of 3D NAND chips.

TrendForce estimated that supplies of the 3D NAND flash storage chip won't ease until the middle of 2018. “The NAND Flash industry’s manufacturers will continue to devote their attention to the development of 3D 64L NAND Flash technology in 2017,” said TrendForce.

In the second half of 2018, some suppliers will also begin to shift their attention towards the industry’s newer and more advanced 96L flash storage products. Samsung, Toshiba and Micron Technology are currently transitioning to 64-layer 3D NAND flash products, while SK Hynix plans to jump straight to supplying 72-layer 3D chips.

“These gradual changes are all expected to have a potentially beneficial effect on the productions of NAND Flash in 2018,” added TrendForce. “As a result, their prices could start to fall as early as next year”. However, the global supply of NAND flash chips is set to remain tight through the end of 2017.

Business Korea said that Samsung Electronics (which leads the global NAND flash market), Toshiba, Western Digital and SK Hynix are accelerating the development of these three-dimensional NAND flash chip technologies, which basically stack more memory cells than 2D chips while utilizing existing mass production facilities.

The 128GB iPhone 7 model, for example, uses Toshiba’s 3D BiCS NAND technology, which stores three bits of data per transistor and stacks 48 NAND layers onto a single die, bringing accelerated read and write performance compared to 2D flash memory chips.

Toshiba selects preferred bidder for memory chip unit sale

Having put its memory-chip business on sale a few months ago, Japanese giant Toshiba said today that it has selected the consortium of Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Bain Capital Private Equity and Development Bank of Japan as its preferred bidder.

According to DigiTimes, the aforementioned government-led consortium has presented the best proposal in terms of valuation, certainty of closing, retention of employees and maintenance of sensitive technology within Japan.

The definite agreement should be confirmed on June 28, when the consortium is scheduled to hold its shareholder meeting. The transaction, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval, should close by March 2018.

Toshiba's memory semiconductor business was split from the parent company on April 1, 2017 as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Toshiba is among Apple's key suppliers of flash memory chips.

SK Hynix unveils 72-layer 256Gb 3D NAND flash memory chips suitable for future iPhones

Apple supplier SK Hynix unveiled 72-layer, 256-gigabit (Gb) 3D NAND flash memory chips based on triple-level cell arrays. By stacking 1.5 times more cells than the company's previous 48-layer technology, a single 256Gb NAND flash chip can represent 32 gigabytes of storage with two times faster internal operation speed and twenty percent faster read/write performance than a 48-layer 3D NAND chip.

iPhone 7 flash memory maker Toshiba could sell its NAND flash unit to Western Digital

DigiTimes estimated this week that flash memory chips for smartphones will remain in high demand throughout 2017 because supply shortages are reportedly “worse than expected” as chip makers are currently transitioning from older 2D NAND to newer 3D NAND technology.

According to a report Friday in The Korea Herald newspaper, citing Mirae Asset Daewoo Securities analysts, Toshiba may spin off of its lucrative NAND flash unit and sell the stake to Western Digital, narrowing the technology and market share gap with its bigger rival Samsung Electronics.

Adobe pushes another critical security update for Flash Player

It's been a little more than two weeks since Photoshop maker Adobe released a security update for its Flash Player for macOS which fixed a bunch of critical vulnerabilities and now another critical security update for Flash Player got released this morning. According to Adobe, the vulnerabilities in the current version of Flash Player could allow an attacker to take control of Mac, Windows, Linux and Chrome OS machines.

Adobe pushes Flash Player security update fixing critical vulnerabilities

Adobe today released a new security-focused update for its Flash Player software in an effort to patch a series of vulnerabilities that could give attackers control of your computer. Although Safari on macOS Sierra disables web plugins like Flash by default, Mac owners who have a standalone Flash Player installed on their system are at risk, even if they're using Flash Player that's built into Google's Chrome browser.

Alleged iPhone 7 Plus parts reaffirm dual cameras, suggest 16/64/256GB models

French leaker Steven Hemmerstoffer yesterday republished an image of some claimed iPhone 7 Plus components, found on Weibo.

The photo appears to show an alleged dual-camera module said to be destined for the handset's refresh, along with NAND flash chips which suggest that the iPhone 7 could include a new 256-gigabyte model.

The presence of both 16GB and 64GB memory modules on the photo might indicate that, disappointingly, the iPhone's highly criticized low-storage 16GB model won't be going away with the forthcoming hardware refresh.

How to manually check for Flash updates on your Mac

Flash is among one of the most targeted web platforms for injecting computers with malware, including Macs, and that's why Adobe is always turning around with updates for Flash all the darned time.

If you're like me, then your security is important to you, and you may not trust automatic updates to deliver updates to you quickly enough.

This tutorial will show you how you can make sure Flash is up to date on your Mac, the manual way.

Google to ditch Flash for HTML5 by default in Chrome come this fall

The slow death of Adobe Flash continues as Google preps to put another nail into the beleaguered technology's coffin come this fall. According to a draft proposal from the search giant, a copy of which was obtained by Venture Beat, Google's desktop browser will default to showing HTML5 content and video, falling back to Flash as a last resort.

Chrome ships with a built-in Flash Player which automatically kicks into action whenever a piece of Flash content is detected on a webpage.

How to remove Adobe Flash from your Mac

The succession of vulnerabilities found in Adobe's Flash Player shows no signs of dying down: not a month goes by without Adobe releasing another yet emergency update for Flash to patch a bunch of newly discovered vulnerabilities (measuring in the dozens).

Some of them can be pretty nasty as they introduce new attack vectors for spyware, ransomware, trojans and other malicious applications that you don't want anywhere near your computer.

A few years ago, Flash Player was impossible to avoid because a bulk of web video was encoded in Adobe's proprietary Flash format, but not anymore: YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and many other popular web services now use HTML5-based video players that work in any modern browser.

While Apple does block older, vulnerable versions of Flash in the Safari browser on macOS, you should do yourself a favor and remove Flash Player from your Mac using step-by-step instructions provided in this tutorial.