August 5, 2007

Embedded YouTube videos don't appear on the iPhone.

Even though the iPhone has an icon on the home screen that connects directly to YouTube and the videos play gorgeously on the clear, bright screen, embedded videos don't even appear! You just see a picture of a block!
In case you haven’t heard the news, the reason embedded YouTube videos don’t work in Mobile Safari is because it doesn’t bundle the Adobe Flash plugin, Lite or otherwise. Users also can’t download it, install it, or otherwise upgrade to the latest version.
They ought to fix that quickly!

I'm wondering if this is a hint for why Safari on my laptop won't play embedded video (or will sometimes play it once but not twice). Works on Firefox -- but I still prefer Safari.

UPDATE: I tried installing Flash, but I still can't play embedded video in Safari on my laptop.

IN THE COMMENTS: Why the iPhone limitation makes sense and is temporary.


Moose said...


Welcome to the wonderful world of a "closed platform".

If Mr. Jobs deems it so, it will happen. Otherwise, you're just a malcontent that doesn't understand the magic of Jobs.

Randy said...

They ought to fix that quickly!

Yes, they should. They should have come out with a product that worked with Adobe Flash in the first place. It seems to me that Apple has always done what is in the best interests of Apple alone (NTTIAWWT). Those who buy into Apple's PR hype tend to ignore its monopolistic and authoritarian behavior.

Anonymous said...

"They should have come out with a product that worked with Adobe Flash in the first place. It seems to me that Apple has always done what is in the best interests of Apple alone (NTTIAWWT). Those who buy into Apple's PR hype tend to ignore its monopolistic and authoritarian behavior."

And it seems to me that people who aren't software engineers don't have enough information upon which to base an opinion about what should and should not be included in a consumer electronics device. Job one for a consumer electronics device is reliability, not openness to extension by third (or fourth, or fifth...) parties. Google "Palm OS phone reliability" and you'll find some interesting horror stories out there. Or consider another popular consumer electronics device that happens to be a Linux box: TiVo. The Series 2 TiVo has a Home Media Engine SDK, but look at its limitations:

"HME is TiVo's powerful new open platform for applications that are displayed and controlled by broadband-connected TiVo Series2 DVRs. HME applications are written using the Java programming language and can run on home PCs or remote servers hosted by TiVo. At this time, HME applications cannot control any of the TiVo DVR's scheduling, recording, or video playback capabilities."

Got that? Your apps must be written in Java, can't run on the device itself, and can't control any of the primary functions of the device! Now, stop and ask yourself whether you really want your Internet-connected DVR to be able to load software that could control its scheduling, recording, or video playback capabilities. Flash has the same problem: it embeds an entire programming language with which things that you don't want some unscrupulous person doing to your phone can be done. (You don't want them doing them to your computer, either, but for some reason we've been trained to accept that they will on computers.)

Bottom line, this isn't about the BS "Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field" or any other such nonsense typically thrown around by users of a platform created by a company that was actually found guilty in a court of law of illegally attempting to extend its monopoly power; this is about Apple recognizing that the expectations for consumer electronics devices are different than those for computers—even if, and perhaps especially if, the consumer electronics device in question happens to be a computer.

Fatmouse said...

Snivley: fanboy.

Seriously, no FLASH? What is this, 1997? Flash is on damn near half the pages I visit, and I love the arrogant notion in the article that companies should develop second copies of all their web pages because the iToy can't support a decade-old standard.

Unknown said...

Good lord, the fear and loathing of Steve Jobs has come forward post haste here at Althouse!

Youtube is in the process of encoding their videos in H.264, rather than Flash. H.264 format plays on the iPhone, and Youtube has told the Wall Street Journal they expect to have this completed by the fall.

I agree that Flash is something that is missing from the iPhone, and it joins several other things that are simply not there. But, hey, it's what you get with a VERSION ONE product.

As to why, screaming DISTORTION FIELD and JOBS SUCKS doesn't do anything to further the discussion, and certainly isn't helpful to anyone who's seriously considering the phone, or just wondering why something isn't present on it.

Rather, taking a hard look at a product that is, once again, at VERSION 1.0, and deciding if that's enough to make you wait for the full features to be implemented (Flash is rumored to be on it's way in a software update) or buy one anyway, is the rational approach.

I know, it's no fun to do that when you can express your frustration... at... a company.

Anonymous said...

Fatmouse: Thanks for proving my point. The fact that Flash has been around for a decade is irrelevant; the fact that Flash provides several significant vectors for unscrupulous people to attack your telephone is what's relevant. Some helpful information about what some of the identified vectors are can be found here, not that you'll understand the presentation. At least, however, note that it's from May of this year—three months ago. These are issues that exist today, and are excellent reasons not to support Flash on a telephone.

Joe said...

the fact that Flash provides several significant vectors for unscrupulous people to attack your telephone is what's relevant

The benefits of Flash aside, I believe that it can be fully sandboxed. Moreover, supporting embedded Flash video doesn't mean you have to support all of Flash. That Flash videos play straight from YouTube indicate they are doing something comparable. I doubt this was an oversight, so there's either a bug or something in the browser architecture is getting in the way or both. But, this is software, it's quite fixable--the only question is whether its really worth fixing (what percentage of potential customers won't buy iPhone because of this deficiency and what percentage of current customers will call support because of this issue? I have no idea--I'll guess, though, that it's not very many. Given all the other issues of iPhone, do you really want Apple to be spending their resources on embedded Flash videos?

PS. I wouldn't discount Steve Jobs in all this. If Jobs loved watching embedded Flash, I'm quite sure this problem would never have existed. Given Jobs' hands on management of iPhone, I think we can safely assume that this feature is way down his list. I actually don't blame him; it would be way down on my list too.

reader_iam said...

So far, I have neither seen nor heard of any problem with the iPhone that wasn't discussed prior to it going on sale. The information wasn't hard to come by, either. And V1.0's typically pose challenges, in any product release in this sort of realm--which why buying an iPhone was THE exception to my personal rule, and one of the few exceptions to my husband's personal rule. So I'm not clear where the surprise (not referring to Althouse; my comment is more general) is coming from. Finally, no one was forced to buy the product, and since it is a discretionary product entirely, I don't see where there's much "should" about it.

This isn't to say I haven't compiled feedback and submitted it. But isn't that par for the course for anything new?

reader_iam said...

I lived through Word for Windows 1.0 (and successive versions of early Windows, for that matter).

I can get through this.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, as has already been pointed out by others, this "problem" is being solved, for once in high technology, the right way: by YouTube adopting the open H.264 standard. There's no reason in the first place why you need a full-on embedded programming language and virtual machine to play video; the only argument going for Flash video was ubiquity. Thankfully, H.264 is becoming ubiquitous if it isn't already, so we can avoid perpetuating some of the security nightmares that have plagued the Internet to date.

Joe said...

For reference here is one article on this. Based on this, I assume Ann apparently was watching the H.264 content when viewing YouTube natively. The question is whether this content plays through links.

Palladian said...

Does any mobile device (excluding laptops) play Flash files?

MadisonMan said...

I lived through Word for Windows 1.0 (and successive versions of early Windows, for that matter).

Exactly. I lived through programming on cards. I can live through this.

Moose said...


You know, I could forgive Jobs for something like this, except for the fact that the OS on the iPhone is 500 Mb. The OS on a Windows Mobile device is like 32 Mb.

Now, since they are working with a not so stripped down version of Safari as Windows Mobile's version of IE, *and* they have full control over the platform, the would experience such a rather egregious oversight like no Flash support.

On the other hand, the current iPhone is very much a 1.0 device and and is buoyed up not so much by the Jobs reality distortion field, as it is by the "oh god, it's from Apple - it's so cool" reality distortion field.

If you want to see a really sad Apple obsession, go over to Lilek's site. He'd buy a home Lasik Surgery kit from Apple if they sold them.

Palladian said...

"The OS on a Windows Mobile device is like 32 Mb."

Yes, but the iPhone is 15.625 times better than some trash Windows mobile device, now isn't it?

It's wonderful to see how jealous the iPhone is making all of you Redmond tools.

Again, does any hand-held device support Flash on its browser?

Moose said...



It's not jealousy, just some gleeful ballon-pricking.

paul a'barge said...

Liam: It's not jealousy, just some gleeful ballon-pricking

Um, that's not a balloon you're pricking. And, if you were not numb above the neck and below the navel, you'd realize it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

Lived through programming on cards

Heh. Well, now, Madisonman, after a long day yesterday when the realization that I'm not as young as I used be came in for a bit of emphasis, I was disinclined to date myself in that way, since I could make my point in a more recent way!

But I know what you mean.

reader_iam said...

I also strongly suspect I will make it through Apple vs. Microsoft Version XXX.Adinfinitum, now and in the future.

I use whatever I need to whenever I need to do whatever for whomever at the time, which I suspect is what most people do, given the resources.

The rest is a big yaaawwwwn, at this point.