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Google’s Chrome web browser keeps getting better. According to a new post on Google+, the company says that, starting on September 1st, Chrome will begin to pause many Flash ads by default in order to improve performance for its users. This change was first announced in June, and initially rolled out to the beta version of the Chrome desktop web browser.
At the time, Google noted that it would pause the Flash content that it deemed wasn’t “important” to you, while still allowing you to watch the videos you wanted to see. And in the case that it had incorrectly paused content you did want to view, you could simply click on the item to resume playback.
Stopping Flash content, like auto-playing advertisements, makes sense in today’s increasingly mobile world where web surfers are just as likely – if not more likely – to be surfing using an untethered laptop (or Chromebook!) to browse with Chrome as they are sitting at a desktop computer. Auto-playing Flash content can quickly drain a laptop’s battery, not to mention get on users’ nerves.
By displaying this content, Google says that users will see better battery life and speed improvements.
Lest you think Chrome’s squashing of Flash content is a slight to Adobe, it’s worth pointing out that Google actually partnered with Adobe to develop the feature. In the post from earlier this summer, Google explained that the browser would now intelligently pause things like Flash animations on webpages, while allowing video content that’s more central to the page to run without interruption. The end result is that you’ll be able to web surf for longer without needing to plug in to a power outlet.
As this change to how Flash content is displayed could impact advertisers, Google also notes in the post from this week that most Flash ads uploaded to AdWords are automatically converted to HTML5 instead. However, advertisers who need to ensure their ads continue to show on the Google Display Network will need to follow some additional procedures ahead of the September 1st deadline to identify those ads not eligible for automatic conversion and then make the conversions themselves.
Google, like other tech companies, including most notably Apple, has been working to distance itself from Flash technology for some time. In January, Google-owned YouTube switched over to streaming HTML5 video by default, for example.
And more recently, we’ve seen other shifts away from Flash too. Facebook’s security chief called for Flash to be killed off for good. (Facebook supports HTML5 video, but also Flash due to browser compatibility issues – which is troublesome to those in the security community due to things like Flash Player’s tendency toward zero-day vulnerabilities.
It is time for Adobe to announce the end-of-life date for Flash and to ask the browsers to set killbits on the same day.
— Alex Stamos (@alexstamos) July 12, 2015
In addition, video game streaming service Twitch began moving away from the technology thanks to a redesign of its video player controls announced last month. However, video gaming is a major area where the technology still seems to have a hold, as gaming site Kotaku also detailed last month. For game developers, the concern is that browser makers will eventually stop supporting the technology altogether, meaning that tens of thousands of online games would stop working.
Chrome’s latest move to stop playing Flash content automatically isn’t exactly reaching that point yet, but it’s certainly a step in that general direction.
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