Android's Flash Player is dead - live with it

Android's Flash Player is dead - live with it

Summary: If you've not already got Flash Player on your Android device, you can no longer install it or get updates through the Play Store. I would not recommend trying to get it through less official channels.

TOPICS: Android, Security

And lo, it has come to pass. Today's the day that Adobe delists Flash Player from the Google Play store.

If it's not already on your Android phone or tablet, you now won't be able to get it on there in an officially-sanctioned way. If it's already on there, breathe easy, you can continue to get updates — unless you're on Android 'Jelly Bean' 4.1.

Adobe Flash Player
Adobe Flash Player is no more on Android.

According to Adobe, if Flash is not already installed, the device is probably not certified for Flash (here's a list of devices that are certified) and is therefore increasingly unlikely to run Flash content properly. And Jelly Bean is a definite no-no — if a user has upgraded their device to Jelly Bean, they should uninstall Flash Player, Adobe says.

Except, of course, users can still install Flash Player by other means, as I have done.

I actually have two Jelly Bean devices: a Nexus S smartphone that got the upgrade a few weeks ago (gradually slowing it down over time, although that's fodder for a different article), and my nice shiny Nexus 7 tablet, which came with Jelly Bean.

The Nexus 7 did not, of course, come with Flash Player preinstalled, which is a pain when you're trying to watch content such as, say, Comedy Central's The Daily Show. And even if the device did come with Flash Player, the default Chrome browser doesn't support Flash.

Here be monsters

So here's what I did — and first off, let me stress that I am not recommending that you do the same. I'll come back to why in a moment.

I went to xda-developers and found a downloadable version of Flash Player on one of its forums. That site is about as reputable as you're going to get in this space, but I still felt a tinge of uncertainty when I downloaded and installed the file.

I then downloaded the beta Firefox browser from the Play Store, and there you go, I had The Daily Show up and running, albeit choppily and without playback controls. It's a pretty lousy user experience, but it works in a pinch.

Now, as I said, don't do this. Why? Because Flash is a hugely popular vector for malware — yes, on the desktop, but Android and mobile ecosystems in general are becoming an increasingly popular target. There's a reason Flash Player is constantly getting security updates on the desktop — do you really want to go without on your phone or tablet?

Getting your Flash Player off the back of a metaphorical van is even worse. Not only are you foregoing updates, but you're downloading and installing something that may already come with malware, or some kind of deliberate hole. And the further we get away from today, 15 August, the shakier any side-loaded version of the Android Flash Player will be.

In other words, let Flash Player go. If it's not already on your device, or if you know Adobe won't be updating it, then move on. Your experience of using it will only get worse, and you're also making your device more vulnerable to attack.

Blame game

Yes, this is frustrating for those of us who want to watch Flash content on the go. I dearly wish I could get my Jon Stewart fix through my Nexus 7 — the device is just the right size for personal video viewing.

Comedy Central and their contemporaries should either be switching over to HTML5 video, or they should put out a proper app to let users play their content

But I'm not blaming Adobe: Steve Jobs forced their hand. I'm not blaming Google: they'd be crazy not to wean their users off a dying technology (and yes, I know Adobe's shifting over to packaging Flash content in AIR, but tell that to my in-browser video player).

I'm blaming the content producers. Comedy Central and their contemporaries should either be switching over to HTML5 video, or they should put out a proper app to let users play their content. Why has this not already happened? I don't know — probably inertia on the HTML5 front and some infernal territorial rights issues in the case of the apps.

But really, it's been nine months since Adobe said it was killing the Android Flash Player, and more than two years since the Flash-allergic iPad went on sale. A significant proportion of people do not turn to the desktop for their web media consumption anymore, and their numbers are only going to grow.

There are no excuses anymore. Content producers need to sort it out — and if they don't, they may be accidentally encouraging fans of their content to put themselves at risk in order to view it.

Topics: Android, Security

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • (subject is a useless field)

    I thought flash was dead already.

    Good riddance.
    • Flash has been dead for years...

      Ever since Macromedia sold out to Adobe.
      Iman Oldgeek
  • The Daily Show page works great on the iPad.

    What is the issue of the Nexus 7?
    • Maybe...

      ... the page recognises the iPad as an iPad, but only gives the Nexus 7 a standard desktop page. In which case, such pages need to get smarter. And, ideally, ditch Flash on the desktop - HTML5 is fine there too.
      David Meyer
      • Daily Show on a PC or Android without Flash ... ?

        If so, please expound (i.e. what is required on a PC or Android to watch the Daily Show if you get rid of Flash ?). If not, I am not ditching Flash. The "Ditch Flash" crowd assumes that content providers are giving everyone an option (i.e. HTML5) and I don't think that is the case for a significant amount of content.
        • The question is how long do you want to live with the pain of transition.

          For iOS, alternate content is almost ALWAYS available. I see the Flash dialog about once or twice a year now. I have no issue living with that.

          If the Android community would simply pull Flash from their devices and use that "feedback" link at the bottom of the page when they get Flash content, within 4-8 weeks time (if the Android community banded together and forced sites to campaign the fix) Flash would be an after-thought on Android like it has been on iOS for 18+ months.

          The fix is simple. Both Android and iOS use WebKit based rendering engines. Treat them the same. The pages are already developed. There is little testing to do. Just treat Android like iOS.
          • Are you sure...

            that it is simply a matter of the rest of the parts are there in the Android browser to support the Apple content (i.e. codecs and other things) ? If so, it would seem that changing the User Agent String on the browser to emulate Safari would be an alternative.
          • Google use H.264

            Apple is using an open standard codec. Google also licenses it and can use it.

            Delete Flash. Use the feedback. Force the sites to treat Android the same as iOS.
        • These sites will eventually get out of Flash

          and go with HTML 5, that's the trend. So, get used to it.

          Flash sucks anyway. Too many problems with it. That's why both MS and Apple wanted Adobe to ditch it. IT SUCKS.

          Oh, and for you Android users. NO PODCASTS FOR YOU. Google dumped their podcast software. Oh well, get used to it.

          Android is basically dead for the tablets once Apple releases a smaller iPad.

          Once Apple announces their iPhone 5, they'll regain more market share. The media is just promoting Android sales at a pre-iPhone 5 announcement, and most of the Android phones sold are just the cheap ones. They aren't selling that many top Android models.
          • ???

            Not to smart are you lol.. First off who the hell uses podcasts except apple fanboys lol useless to most.. Flash has always worked fine for myself no infections or lags on any devices.Html 5 is being very slowly adapted so its not a viable fall back for at least one more maybe 2 years so flash as it is heavily used online will be needed for awhile even if adobe is doing a dummy move and dropping it. Someone will replicate it for all devices so content can be enjoyed in full unlike apples sorry devices.. yeah people will rush to buy a $500 7 " apple tablet..The iphone 5 as been leaked still lags behind the more basic android phones. Apple has lagged behind since after the release of the iphone3. They have to keep playing catch up and with ugly sterile styling they only appeal to die hard apple users who don't mind a good bend over and screw.Most android sold phones are not the cheap ones not sure where your rock is your living under lol
          • how rude and ignorant!

            I use podcasts all the time - BBC programs on my windows PC and my windows mobile hd2. I have never had an apple anything. Just cos you are against apple does not mean that everyone supporting some of their ideas or products is a fanboy.
          • Dream on Fanboi

            Apple has peaked, and is slowly falling - they know this, why do you think they are suing everybody left and right.
          • Loverock? Did you buy a new sock?


            AN Apple fanboy who sounds just like Loverock Davidson.
          • How pathetic.

            Seriously, they are phones my friend. Tablets and phones. This isn't a football league. They are nought but tools. Do you see me down the DIY store laughing at people who don't buy the same brand of drill that I own. No. And if you did see someone doing that, what would you think about them? You would think they are utterly sad and devoid and quite a lot of tool themselves. Now swap drill/wheelbarrow for phone, and you have you. Douche that you are.
          • Moving the mountain for iOS

            While you keep emailing the sites asking them to change their content to work with your handicapped device running "the world's most advanced mobile OS", other users are happily accessing those sites NOW without propblems.
            It's not just flash either, there's a lot of javacripts that doesn't work properly on Safari.
            When aren't these users emailing Apple and asking for flash and better javascript support instead of asking content providers to change their content?
          • Yeah, right!

            First off, iPhone 5 is a complete joke. The ONLY reason why it sells so well is because the general public is oblivious to technology and easily influenced by media advertisement. I can give Apple credit for making a fine art out of polishing a turd (iPhone). Android phones are far more advanced and where Android was just little over a year ago is where iPhone is today. Just because Android tablets have not been flying off the shelves, doesn't mean the Android tablet market was asleep. I can find at least three variants of Android tablets that outperform the latest iPad. If Google would throw as much hype into their tablets as Apple does then perhaps the market will shift. Right now, it looks like the Microsoft Surface will give your precious iPad a run for its money. And yes there will be a mini version of Surface. I think iPad's glory days are over just like iPhone's glory days have passed. Time to move on!
    • This site best viewed with IE

      Wait, you guys hated it when that was the way the web worked.

      "This site best viewed with iPad"

      Now you guys think this is fantastic.

      We are going down the same troubled path we went down before. Apple has a monopoly in the tablet market and an absolute monopoly in the tablet browser market. Apple won't allow you to uninstall Safari and the other "browsers" are just shells around Apple's forced, bundled, and tied in renderer. This has forced web site providers to create their web sites so they only look good on Apple devices.

      This is horrific.

      This must be stopped.

      It is time for the DoJ to step in.
      • Do you just recycle this reply, Todd, on a slow "comment day"? Grin.

        I liked the way David Meyer spun his Flash-Steve Jobs with his "...Steve Jobs forced their hand" comment.

        History tells us that Steve Jobs waited years for Adobe to get their mobile Flash software to a stage that was suitable for mobile device play. It never happened. Apple waited years and years and then history tells us that it was Adobe that forced Steve Jobs and Apple's hand to drop mobile Flash and endorse the already endorsed by Microsoft HTML5 protocols.
        • Let me know when you can refute this

          "This site best viewed on iPad"

          You haven't done it yet.

          This is what happens when there is a monopoly situation and it is precisely this type of issue that creates barriers to entry for other tablet makers. All Apple has to do is show that when you use MS Surface to browse to the Daily Show home page, you get a bunch of blank panels telling you that Flash isn't installed. Then they browse to it with iPad, everything looks great, and they can claim that iPad is the better browser. Anyone who knows anything would immediately realize that the Daily Show was sending better HTML to the iPad but foolish consumers would look at this and conclude that they don't want to buy MS Surface.

          That's a barrier to entry and all thanks to Apple's forced, bundled, tied in monopoly mobile browser. With 91% of the marketshare, why would web site authors create sites that worked on anything else? Clearly, they don't. Consumers lose. Competitors aren't given equal footing. This is anti-competitive and must be remedied. I would suggest breaking Apple up into little companies.
          • What makes you think a surface wouldnt render a flash site just fine?

            Or that websites are 91% viewed with ipads? For more people use pcs to browe than ipads.
            Johnny Vegas