If you want to watch Flash videos or play Flash games on your iPhone or iPad, you'll come across a bit of a problem: iOS doesn't offer support for Flash. However, there are various apps available on the App Store that will help, and in this article, we explain how to get Flash on iPad and iPhone.
Read next: Has Flash stopped working on your Mac? Here's how to update Flash Player on your Mac.
Best Flash apps for iPad and iPhone
Popular browser apps that will enable you to play Flash videos and games on your iPad and iPhone include Photon Browser and Puffin. Unfortunately Skyfire Browser (now Opera) and iSwifter Browser are no longer available, but used to display Flash content. Other third-party browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera no longer support Flash on iOS devices.
Photon Browser seems to be the most popular choice for iPad and iPhone users that require Flash support. It's a £4.99 app for iPad and £3.99 for iPhone that acts as a good alternative browser to Safari, and also has a Flash mode that you turn on by tapping the lightning bolt icon in the top right corner.
Admittedly, turning on Flash does make the browser a little slow, and it's not the most attractive interface, but it certainly does the trick. We were able to create a Moshi Monster with no trouble at all on our iPad and iPhone using Photon Browser, though.
Here's what happens when using Photon Flash Player vs Safari (swipe to see more):
We also managed to visit the Disney Fantasyland and Flash Driving Game websites with no problems. If you're finding Photon unbearably slow, try tapping the settings icon in the top right corner and adjusting the settings to suit your purpose.
Puffin is another popular browser for Flash content, has a free version if you want to test it out before paying the £3.99 for the full iPad or iPhone version - displayed the Moshi Monsters (below) and Flash Driving Game websites brilliantly, but struggled a little when displaying the Flash version of the Disney Fantasyland site. But having the option to try it out first is a real plus here, because you can then decide whether it meets your needs. It's also ideal for one-off instances when Flash is needed.
However, Puffin does have a flaw for non-US users. Its servers are located in the US, which means there is a geo-restriction on content being viewed. For example, despite being in the UK, we couldn't view BBC iPlayer.
Other ways to get Flash on iPad and iPhone
Services such as Parallels Access also offer a way to access Flash on iPad and iPhone, by streaming directly from your Mac or PC. Parallels Access lets you access your Mac or PC desktop on your iPad from anywhere in the world, enabling you to use apps including Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Flash Player and Flash-supported browsers.
If getting Flash on iPad and iPhone is the only thing you'd be downloading Parallels for, it's probably not the ideal solution, as a year's subscription will cost you £13.99. However, if you're also looking for a way to access your PC or Mac remotely, or run Mac or PC applications on an iPad or iPhone, it's certainly worth investigating.
Why doesn't the iPad and iPhone support Flash?
Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs famously bashed Flash for mobile, and refused to allow the technology on the iOS platform. Instead, Jobs fought for the alternative HTML5 standard, which is beginning to replace Flash around the web.
If you'd like more detail on Apple's objections to the standard, read Steve Jobs' thoughts on the matter from 2010.
In August 2012, Adobe disabled new installs of Flash via the Google Play Store, marking the end of Adobe Flash on Android devices too.
Will Adobe Flash Player be used in the future?
With the removal and limited ability to view Flash content on iOS devices, the industry has shifted its interest from Flash and moved to other web codecs. Over the years Flash video has lost a lot of popularity, where it has seen a decrease of in recent years according to a report published by Encoding. In this report we see H.264 being by large the most popular video format with 72% market share.
It's interesting to note that the rise of WebM (also known as VP9), which works alongside HTML5, has grown in popularity by increasing its market share by a third. However, on iOS devices Apple chooses to utilise HEVC (also known as H.265) which has also grown in popularity.
According to Encoding and those that care about video formats, their predictions all estimate that Flash will reach the end of its shelf-life in 2018, whereby Flash will no longer be supported nor used by a majority of manufacturers and suppliers. Unfortunately we can't Flash-forward to the future to predict what the market will be like in 2018, but with the rise of HTML5 and other formats we figure it's a reasonably accurate prediction by Encoding.
Macworld poll: What do you use Flash for?
Since you're reading this article, we're prepared to assume that you have some use for Adobe Flash. But what does it do for you? Join in with our poll: