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April 7, 2023updated 17 May 2023 3:18pm

What is Adobe Flash Player?

Tech Monitor looks into the freeware software known as Adobe Flash Player

By Tech Monitor Staff

Adobe Flash Player was part of a technological era which is now, fortunately, or unfortunately, over. The software, also called Shockwave Flash or Macromedia Flash, revolved around multimedia, from audio to videos, on streaming platforms or online gaming websites.

It was behind most of the media everyone consumed online, and it was the basis for many web apps and animation creators. However, with time, it became obsolete and was overshadowed by other evolutions in the field. But what was it, exactly?

Adobe Flash Player on a Mac screen
Adobe Flash Player was discontinued in 2021 / Image: Jarretera/Shutterstock

What was Adobe Flash Player?

Adobe Flash Player was a software designed to stream and play video, audio and multimedia on a compatible computer or mobile device. Originally, it was created by Macromedia, but then switched over to Adobe Systems Inc.

The software was freeware, meaning that it could be downloaded for free and its plugin was available for every major web browser, like Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Even if it is no longer available today, Adobe Flash Player was supported by all the major desktop operating systems, like Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The software handled SWF files, animated vector graphics on the web, also called animations. However, after 2012, Adobe stopped its mobile apps in favour of HTML5.

Why did Adobe Flash Player stop running?

January 2021 saw Adobe discontinuing Flash Player, because of several security issues. This is because, since it was around since the 1990s, it became the standard for almost all computer users. This also meant that it became a really easy target for hackers, which forced Adobe to release continuous updates and patch fixes.

In addition, in 2007, Apple released the first model of iPhone which never supported Adobe Flash Player. This started a domino effect which brought popular platforms like YouTube to abandon Flash to adapt to the new wave of technology. All of these factors contributed to Flash becoming obsolete over time.

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One of the most widespread replacements was HTML5, which never required external plugins and it is an open-source program, alongside being lighter and easier to elaborate and, consequently, quicker.

What are the best replacements for Adobe Flash Player?

In order to view Flash-based multimedia content, since Flash Player was discontinued, users sometimes need to download replacements since Adobe itself recommended installing third-party FLV player and SWF player for Mac.

One of the most popular alternatives is Lightspark, which is an open-source Flash player for Windows and Linus. It works best as a replacement for Adobe Flash Player for Chrome and Firefox and, like the original software, is free.

Another possibility is Elmedia Player, this time for Mac. This is because it supports a wide range of file formats, such as FLV and SWF ones, but also MOV, MP4, MKV and MPEG. It is more complete than Lightspark because it also offers broader playback and streaming options, subtitle settings, audio tunings and playlists.

Even if not strictly necessary, there are a multitude of possibilities to keep enjoying Flash content, which can be in the form of an external application or a browser plugin. HTML5, on the other hand, is a valid alternative too and is supported by most, if not all, modern technological devices.

Read more: Microsoft expands Bing AI-powered search offering with new image capabilities










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