Got Android Jelly Bean? No NBC Olympics for you!

Got Android Jelly Bean? No NBC Olympics for you!

Summary: Apple's iOS has cool video streaming apps for the 2012 London Summer Games. So does Google's Android. But tough luck if you have a Jelly Bean device.

TOPICS: Android

UPDATED 07/25/2012 0946 EST: Google appears to have resolved the Olympics application issues with Google Play on the Nexus 7 as of very early this morning.


So tonight, I was lying down on my cushy new Serta iSeries gel mattress on the floor of my bedroom in my new Florida home basking in the bohemian laziness that is "no bedroom furniture yet".

I was bored, so I grabbed both of my two tablets, my iPad 3 and my barely-scratched Nexus 7.

Despite my current mental state of enduring 97 degree heat with 120 percent humidity that was clearly reducing the network efficiency of my synaptic pathways, I was aware that the summer Olympics was soon to begin, so I figured I'd check out and see what cool new apps existed.

Well, it turns out that NBC does have some cool new apps for the Olympic games. 

Two in fact.

The first is an event summary/scoring/news/medal count application, which has some neat social networking integration stuff, and the second, called the "Live Extra" allows you to view live video feeds of all of the events provided you have some form of subscription TV service.

And yes, both apps exist on iOS and Android. How'd they do that? Well, as it turns out, they are both written using Adobe's cross-platform toolkit that allows you to take Flash code and compile it natively on either iOS or Android.

Cool, huh?

So I installed the iPad version from the App Store first. Runs, no problem. No content yet, but things aren't heating up until the 27th.

Next, I whip out the Nexus 7. I search for "Olympics" in Google Play. All I get back are third party results, not the NBC apps. Wha?

I opened up Chrome and searched for "Android olympics apps" and it directed me to NBC's landing page, which in turn fires up links to the Google Play store for the Live Extra and regular mobile apps.

And what happened? The Google Play screen for the NBC apps say "This application is incompatible with your hardware."

Wait, what? This is Google's flagship product and operating system! Why the heck wouldn't it work? And why are they filtering the results out on the Nexus 7?

Sure enough, I tried it on my wife's Droid Bionic running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Works fine. Tried it on my Ice Cream Sandwich-based Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Works fine.

Well, it turns out... That if you have a Jelly Bean-based device, you're probably screwed. The reason for this is that Flash isn't supported on Jelly Bean within the browser or via the dedicated player application, whatsoever.

UPDATE: I am awaiting confirmation from Adobe that this problem is actually a DRM/Content rights issue, not Flash-Related.

Of course, this is the direct fallout from Adobe ceasing development on Mobile Flash, which I broke the story on last year. 

Now, I'm not entirely sure why this manifests itself on natively compiled Android apps. I would think that the NBC stuff would run within the NDK, but perhaps a veteran Android developer can explain this better to me.

After all, if you can cross-compile the code to run on an iOS device, which has very serious restrictions about running Flash code at all, then what's the issue?

All I know is that I'm a Nexus 7 user and I'm left out -- and so is everyone who bought a GSM Galaxy Nexus and got their Jelly Bean update, as far as I can tell, unless someone has a creative hackerish solution.

UPDATE: I've recieved reports that the Galaxy Nexus GSM updated to Jelly Bean can run the Olympics apps, but the Nexus 7 and other various phones running AOSP ROMs cannot.

Did Google screw up by leaving legacy Mobile Flash support out of Jelly Bean? Talk Back and Let Me Know.


Topic: Android


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • no Android version of London 2012

    NBC’s not winning the gold for Android users
  • Umm

    As others have said but, you refuse to see... Side load it, many of, them are compatible but not tagged yet.
    • This app is in the market now!

      You don't need to sideload the app. You can go straight to the Android Marketplace and download it. From the regular, US-based Nexus 7.
  • Flash has nothing to do with this

    Since you didn't seem to have bothered investigating much, I did the job for you and confirmed this has absolutely NOTHING to do with Flash. I was able to search for and install the two mentioned apps on a Jelly Bean device... just fine.

    You didn't bother to test on any other device except your Nexus 7. So maybe go back and check your facts please?
    • why not work on the nexus?

      This is, after all, Google's very own tablet that is supposed to showcase what Android is capable of.

      And, it sort of does: demonstrates how awfully fragmented the Android platform is.
      • Just trying to educate a little

        We call that platform diversity, and it's a good thing. You see other developers realize that monocultures never survive in the long term. You see, Android allows flexibility and diversity. It gives developers many options for how to build their app and what features they might be able to take advantage of, instead of relying on a single company to decide what hardware might be suitable for their app to run on. In a sense, devices are developed to support the creativity of Android app developers... and not the other way around. There is a perfectly reasonable (and wildly successful) tradeoff at work here. In exchange for this amazing reach of devices that developers get, there are a few simple rules to follow on how you configure your apps.

        In this specific case, these NBC Olympics apps are producing terrible, sub-par, sluggish and non-native and generic feeling apps (the law of cross-platform GUI tools). Certainly not recommended practice by Android developer I've ever talked to. Nonetheless the issue was probably the native code being produced. So overnight it seems that the developer simply corrected the issue by flipping whatever flags they needed and rebuilding. Issue solved. Perfectly compatible, and your argument is invalid.

        But I hope you understand a bit better now, the fallacy of the Android "fragmentation" complaint.
      • no problem for the Pros

        And just like that its fixed because Pros know how to handle fragmentation. It is afterall what developers are trained to handle. To the amateurs, yes it may seem confusing and difficult. Just like swiping the screen if you are 90 years old.
  • what an ultra maroon

    I'm pretty sure Mr. Perlow delights at ANY chance to make Android sound inferior. Even (as it sounds like, in this case) when the facts don't support his claims.
    • not worried

      I guess it doesn't really matter. The misinformation presented here is unlikely to affect the tens of readers of this blog. :) I only visit when i see a particularly troubling headline and/or summary...and it's usually this guy doing the writing.
  • Installed on my N7

    I've got NBC Olympics installed on my N7; seems to work fine for me, including video...
  • Just

    You can't install it by accessing the Play Store via your Nexus 7 tablet. If you go to the Play Store by a desktop browser, it should show up as compatible with all devices, and you can push it to your Nexus 7 tablet.

    But this is where it gets weird. If you go back to your list of INSTALLED apps via your tablet, it won't show up. However if you push over to ALL apps, it'll show up as installed.

    Ghost in the machine I guess.
    gork platter
    • Fixed now it seems

      Either this was a glitch or the developer fixed this overnight because I was just able to install on my Nexus 7 by just search from Play store.
  • More of the quality reporting we've come to expect from ZDNet!

    I saw this article and was disappointed to read that I couldn't get these apps on my Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1.1. But -- this was ZDNet -- so, I go to the Play Store on my phone -- the apps are there; load in about 10 seconds, and work great.

    Keep up that great bleeding-edge reporting there...
    Andrew Ostrom
  • Works fine on JB

    Just tried on Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean, was able to find and install "NBC Olympics Live Extra" via Google Play no prob. Sames results on ICS devices I have. Not sure why you had issue, maybe a bug or too much heat!
    • I didn't flag you but...

      Wow, you really ARE being flagged. Android haters around here much?
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  • Works Fine on Nexus7

    Are you going to update your article to state that there is no problem at all installing this from the play store, logging in, and viewing video?
  • On Jun 26 Adobe announced it was discontinuing Flash development on mobile


    Starting with Android 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean), Adobe will no longer support Flash .. and in August timeframe will start inhibiting downloads on platforms it does not support.
  • watch this comment get flagged

    I think it's interesting how the comments that either disprove the claims in this article or are negative towards the author or zdnet get flagged for removal.