Google Adds Flash to Instant Previews

Posted by at 3:04 pm on May 6, 2011


Google picked Friday to add Flash support to its Instant Previews feature even as it cautioned against using Adobe’s plugin too heavily. The move lets users with a regular web browser see a Flash-heavy site’s animations, layout, and videos in the quick view sidebar instead of plugin errors. The approach would work immediately for any site whose details were scraped by Google’s regular bots but would be turned off when the preview had to be generated on-demand.

The on-demand limitation prompted an uncommon backing away from Flash. Google asked site developers to have a “reasonable, seamless experience” for anyone not using Flash. The approach would both help previews render properly and make viewers “happier,” product lead Raj Krishnan said. He also encouraged those who were using Flash to streamline any code to help it run faster.

Google is widely considered Adobe’s closest partner and has both made Flash built-in with Chrome and a common feature on Android 2.2 and up. Partly because of its existing emphasis on web standards, though, it has had to backtrack and occasionally take steps to reduce its dependency. The search firm decided to sandbox plugins in Chrome 10 as an admission of Flash stability issues and decided to fix a Flash security hole itself through a Chrome fix rather than wait for Adobe.

It’s not known if Instant Previews on Android will support Flash. The call to make Flash optional, not mandatory, is potentially a concession to iPad owners to ensure they have a consistent experience with the desktop version of the page.

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