Android's Flash Player is dead - live with it

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.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

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.

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