Flash for Android is Here, and That’s Fine by Me



85 percent of Alexa top 100 sites. 70 percent of web games. 75 percent of web video. 98 percent of internet connected computers. What do all of these have in common? Flash. Those percentages represent just how large of a presence Flash holds over web content, and it just begs the question ‘Why not?’ Why not have Flash as a mobile platform? Whether or not it fits in the mobile picture seems to be the raging debate ever since Apple flat-out refused the service on the iPhone. But it isn’t just Apple. If you want proof that there is a very vocal group against Flash just let this article sit for a bit and then check the comments.

But that doesn’t matter, because Flash is here. And it works. Adobe has dumped countless man hours into getting their big web content delivery system onto Android handsets, with development stretching all the way back to the G1 before shifting over to the Motorola Droid and finally the Nexus One. And even if Flash for mobile isn’t perfect, Adobe is committed to creating the best possible experience for smartphone users.

Let’s talk about subtlety. In the on-demand world that exists today thanks to things like smartphones that are constantly connected to endless streams of data, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say people want something to just work. Whether or not Flash is a selling point I can’t say for sure, but it sure doesn’t hurt. If you were oblivious to Flash as a platform, didn’t even realize your favorite sites use it, and go to open up said sites on your Android phone and they loaded as normal that is a huge benefit. It is subtle, but it is huge at the same time. Imagine the same scenario but instead of seeing your favorite site you see a blue box with a question mark in it. Maybe multiple boxes. Maybe no content at all is even accessible. That immediately handicaps your device.

But you will shout “HTML5!” My response to that is to go re-read the beginning of this article. Flash is engrained in the web. It isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And most smartphone manufacturers get this. Want another percentage? 95 percent of the top 20 phone manufacturers are committed to bringing Flash to their platforms.

And why? Because Adobe isn’t just doing some shoddy port of their desktop equivalent. No, Flash 10.1 for mobile was built from the ground up with smartphone features and battery optimizations in mind. Multi-touch, mobile commands, gestures, accelerometer support, smart zooming and full screen modes. All features that are currently baked into Flash for Android or will be coming in the near future. And Adobe has been working closely with hardware partners, CPU architects and manufacturers, and Google to make sure the service is usable and intuitive across a large swath of devices.

And even if Flash as an experience isn’t perfect — even if web content isn’t quite optimized for the mobile experience yet — a demand exists for it. Can we say the first official out of beta release of Flash player isn’t without its problems? Absolutely not. There is so much more work to be done between refining the actual platform, gaining developer support, and generating great mobile content, but as it stands Adobe just opened up a whole new avenue of web for mobile.

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Flash is a nice to have. I personally set it so flash content only load when I press on them for faster page rendering. That way, you have the best of both world. If you need flash, you have it, if you don’t, it doesn’t slow you down.

    HTML5 might be the future. But future is the keyword. Today is the present! I don’t see HTML5 replacing flash for the next 5 years at least. So all theses iphone/ipad that won’t have flash will just be useless for the next 5 year and obsolete when not useless anymore.

    Good job Jobs! :P

  2. Were you paid by Adobe to write this article?

    “a demand exists” Really? Who’s demanding this? Are Flash websites really suitably crafted for the mobile experience? Do I want to watch animated advertisements?

    I don’t demand instability on my mobile device. I don’t demand attention sapping content. I don’t demand Flash.

  3. I demand flash.
    And if Flash on Android takes off, we will see mobile sites converting to flash and perhaps flash’s lifespan will increase as a result.

  4. @Scott Greiff: And obviously, your narrow minded view on this represents the whole of the smartphone users. Or maybe not :)

  5. Flash for Android is where? I want it.

  6. got my 2.2 update & still no flash player

  7. I think more users are annoyed by flash then most realize..I don’t need no flash advertisments on my phone. One of the main reasons I use Dolphin HD as my browser is it requires me to click on a flash button before it displays it..

    Not everyone has a demand for a laggy, battery drain flash content that is usually lame or an advertisement anyway.

    Im actually surprised there are that many users who need to play a flash game through their browser.

  8. @Scott Grieff: if you don’t demand flash it’s simple, don’t download it, don’t install it, and don’t use it, and it will never bother you again, but don’t try and say there is no demand for it or if you do try googling “iphone flash support petition” and see how many you find, and this even takes into consideration the Steve Jobs mind control effect.

  9. Been using Flash for a while now and I love it. I also recommend setting the plugin option to On Demand so you only load Flash up when you’re wanting to use it on the page. It works really well and it’s great to be able to watch videos on any site now.

  10. I hate Flash ads and whole-site navigation, etc. But right now there is too much content (mostly video) only available on Flash. It’s extremely limiting not to have it on my phone.

  11. I’ve had flash on my HTC desire for some time now, it’s been brilliant and although I could turn if off if I felt it caused problems, I’ve not had to, in fact it’s been great to view the full web.

    I’ve read all the arguments for not having flash on the phone, and frankly, the simple ability of having the choice to turn it on or off trumps not having it at all. Although many claim to not have missed it, the truth is they’ll never know how useful it is until they’ve had it to miss.

    No ability to chose to run flash on the iPhone = fail.

  12. I didn’t know they had the on demand setting. I suggested they make that an option. Guess i was late to the punch lol

  13. I don’t DEMAND flash, per se, but I DO want the option to use it when I want to, which a certain other fruity company does not allow, as we all know. I have been using flash on my mobile devices since the earlier days of WinMo. It was a nice feature to have due to the extensive use of it on various websites. To say that there is no need/use for it is just flat-out absurd. I appreciate the fact that with flash installed, clicking on a video within the page you are looking at does not require you to have to leave the page to open up another app just to view it. Is it perfect? No. Is it buggy? Somewhat and it can get a bit annoying, but I’d rather have it work for the most part, even if not perfect, than not be able to view anything at all and have to wait ’til I’m at a desktop/laptop before I can see what I was trying to see. My .02….

  14. My argument is with the author’s view that a demand exists. I’m wondering where that demand exists? Certainly the advertisers, game developers, and content creators demand it, but to users en masse demand it? And if the users clamoring for it were actually given Flash, would they enjoy the experience from the perspective of resource drain and usability?

    I’m not making a statement about actual user demand. I have no idea, but millions of people are buying the iPhone without Flash. And perhaps millions more will buy Android because it has Flash? Who knows?

    Personally, I’m not installing it on my Droid. I wonder if I’m the only one?

  15. I will be installing Flash on my Samsung Vibrant since it’s GPU is powerful enough to play flash games.

    @Scott Greiff….Just wait until Adobe AIR gets lifted off the ground and company’s like PopCap are porting there games to it. Not to mention all of the other applications that will utilize Adobe AIR. AIR will bring applications that aren’t just back doors for website content. Stop being close minded and you will see the possibilities of AIR.

  16. @ Scott Greiff

    Demand exists for rich interactive media. The end user doesn’t give a rats ass whether a site they like is Flash, Silverlight, or JS as long as it works and it’s fun. Flash is easily one of the best if not the best platform for rich interactive media right now. html5 provides a subset of the functionality available in Flash. It is in no position to replace it outright. It will replace Flash in certain situations and that is a good thing.

  17. Millions buy the iPone because they don’t know when they go to or they won’t be able to view video. I’m going to guess you may be one on a very short list that won’t download flash to their droid.

  18. do i need to download flash or does it come with my update?

  19. @Scott Greiff
    Please stop and think before you post… You contradict yourself…

    “I’m wondering where that demand exists? Certainly the advertisers, game developers, and content creators demand it, but to users en masse demand it?”
    “I’m not making a statement about actual user demand.”
    –Err… What? Not actual user demand? Wwant to know about fictional user demand… Off the top of my head i think there’s about 19 billion people fictional people that demand it… Does that help?

    “I have no idea, but millions of people are buying the iPhone without Flash.”
    –Millions less than before Android started offering flash on their devices and apple banned it. Coicidence? Could be, God knows there are many reasons to upgrade to an Android device from and iphone, but keep in mind that Flash is a big one for millions of users i’m sure. And if you don’t believe that, do as Vinnie suggested and look up all the petitions and see all the signatures and facebook groups. Oh, and millions of people bought the iphone without being able to multitask or send MMS, that doesn’t mean they didn’t want those features. Just shows that they are ignorant lemmings.

  20. I have flash loaded on my Droid now and I love having it! It doesn’t load adds as it is set by default to optionally load content. You have to press an icon before it loads an object. I have tested multiple sites and can now watch streaming video and get audio that I couldn’t before. If you are one like Scott above and don’t want it…fine, your loss. For me I say thanks Adobe!

    To those that asked if it comes with the 2.2 upgrade, I don’t think so. I am running a rooted rom on mine so I’m not sure but I loaded a separate .apk to install it.

  21. “got my 2.2 update & still no flash player”


  22. I’d just love to have the ability to download flash! Here it is the 18th and my moto Droid is still on 2.1…thinking I got left behind.

  23. Flash is the future because design by committee (W3c) can never beat the efforts of a focused company. The other alternative is Silverlight but do we really want Microsoft setting the standard?

  24. Where is it?? I have 2.2 on my droid, and I dont see it anywhere on the Market

  25. @Scott Greiff

    Don’t insert your beliefs as the only truth. People want to see their content, period. Go stroke your iPhone.

  26. What your title graphic doesnt say is that 90% of sites that have flash is content I dont want to see. Annoying banner ads or poorly written apps.

    Its OK by me to have the option for flash for the very rare times I really want to see it. But having flash on all the time would really slow the mobile browsing experience. Look at the demos of flash on android. All terribly slow. Inline flash video runs a fraction of the frame rate as the equivalent youtube client. Flash is on a lot of sites; but not much content that I actually want to slow down my mobile device.

    That said; its nice to have the option. But android should not hook their wagon to flash. Its a dieing platform.

  27. My feelings on Flash are that it’s a sub-standard experience on my Android phone. I like having the option, sure — it’s certainly infuriating to go to a restaurant’s website and be unable to get their number or the hours they’re open on your phone because the entire website’s in Flash. But even though I now /can/ view the website, trying to select a tiny little hit-location on that mobile screen can be equally infuriating.

    It’s nice to have the option, yah; I’d rather have the crappy Flash experience when I need it (like the restaurants) than just get a blank page. But the experience is painful enough that I’m sure not going to seek out Flash content, and as an earlier poster noted, 90% of the Flash out there are crappy ads I prefer /not/ to see. The feeling of rage you get the third time some horrible animated commercial pops up across the entire news article you were reading, and then your phone slows to a crawl and you can’t find where the tiny little ‘Close Ad’ button is…

    Being realistic, most of the Flash out there is not what people actually want on their mobile device. Even most Flash games aren’t really the goal (which is good, because most Flash games do not work so great on a phone, in my experience thus far). What people want is Flash /video/… and I think we can all agree that given a Flash video on Android and an HTML5 video on the same handset, the HTML5 video will perform a lot better and be a generally less-painful experience.

    Am I glad I have the option to use Flash on my Android some of the time? Sure; see the aforementioned restaurant example. Do I think Flash is necessary, or that it blanket improves the mobile web experience? No, I really don’t. I find Flash advertising obnoxious (and my battery life takes a fairly noticeable hit when I’m on a site with a lot of them, and haven’t turned off Flash), and think we’d be better off if people did design websites specifically for mobile handsets.

    This isn’t a black-and-white, yes-or-no question. There are advantages to mobile Flash, and some disadvantages too.

    (Honestly, Flash is a sub-par experience on anything except a Windows box; the Linux and Mac versions of Flash are better than they used to be even just last year, but they’re still kind of horrible.)

  28. @ari-free

    “Flash is the future”?

    As a 20 year multimedia vet, I have to disagree. Your presumption is that Adobe is a focused company. Adobe got taken over by the suits a long time ago, and suits chase money. If the money doesn’t come in fast and furious, the suits will “re-prioritize”, and Adobe will move onto whatever else looks good. IMHO, Adobe stopped paying attention my development needs a long time ago, and began paying more attention to their stock price. The future is the work being done by the W3c and others who realize we all have a vested interest in an open tool set.

  29. uh, flash is not here, or on adobe’s site, and yes I have 2.2, on a moto droid

  30. You can also have annoying ads with HTML5 but they will be harder to block.

  31. i’ve been using flash on n1 froyo for sometime and just updated to the not beta version to see if the lag, stutter and jitter are gone. sad to say, the longer that i have it, the less i use the damn thing.

  32. > You can also have annoying ads with HTML5 but they will be harder to block.

    Very true. But they wont slow my device down to a crawl.

  33. In the 9 months I’ve had my Droid, I can’t recall once wishing for or demanding flash. On my desktop, most flash content is stuff I don’t want to see anyway – usually an ad or some unnecessary animated thingamajig that does “flashy” stuff I couldn’t care less about, where a more traditional set of menus would work fine.

    The problem isn’t flash though, it’s what web site designers do with flash that’s the problem. Just like operating systems and applications become increasingly and unnecessarily bloated as hardware capabilities increase, web site bloat has steadily increased in conjunction with broadband speeds. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices and their relatively limited bandwidth, web site designers need to take a step back and realize that only so much can be done on the client end to improve the user experience, and that a lousy experience will drive their visitors to other sites.

    Personally, I have no intention of installing flash on my phone unless and until I find some compelling content that requires it.

  34. YES EVERYONE, WE FKING GET GET IT!!!90% of Flash content is ads and you don’t want to see it. Thats why you have the option to disable it and enable it for the stuff you want to see. Wait until company’s like Pop Cap start porting there games over to Adobe AIR, wait until DEV’s start developing real interactive applications for Adobe AIR. If you don’t want Flash then have fun with your applications that are just mere back doors to website content. BLAH… I’d rather just go to the website on my 4in. screen rather than download some stupid application that gives me the same information.

  35. Flash is like copy&paste or wallpapers: You can get by without it, but sometimes you miss it.

    And if it works on other platforms the next generation of “magical devices” will have support, too. Despite the messiah proclaiming its absolute uselessness and mindless drones repeating the mantra.

    If you dont want it or dont need it dont install it. Simple as that. Android users are usually mature enough to decide what is good for them themselves.

  36. Hulu people.. doesnt anyone want to watch Hulu or their Sling Box… come on.

  37. for thsoe that say they don’t have flash with 2.2 look it up the market. lol

  38. @mudrock1000…And if they can’t find it on the market then they can google Flash apk for Android 2.2. I swear man, some of these kids need to have their hands held throughout their entire life.

  39. HTML5 IS the future.
    But we live in the present.
    And the present IS Flash.

  40. I’m a Flash / Actionscript 3 Developer who love Apple technology. So something I see a heck of a lot of is conflicting views. The recent advent of Frash from Comex which now successfully runs Flash on the iPhone and the iPad is all the evidence you need to see of a clear demand for Flash that is not prepared to accept Flash being blocked by Steve Jobs’ and Apples’ future agenda. Flash is a cross-platform, elegant delivery device for interactive web experiences. Sure it has bugs and drawbacks, but nothing else comes close to its capabilities. That’s where the demand comes from. Show me one other cross-platform, browser universal, elegant, interactive, lightweight internet experience that comes close to Flash. You can’t. Because there isn’t one. Why kill something that doesn’t deserve to die and refuses to do so? I think that Steve Jobs and Apple have been trying to kill something that is simply too good to die. And they are due to eat some well deserved humble pie in the not too distant future when they read their mobile device sales figures.

  41. I talked to a Verizon Rep today and they are adding the new update to 10,000 phones per day. Once all phones are updated flash will appear on the market.

  42. @NewtonsTree….Well said! Your comment should be the period to this debate.

  43. FLASH will live as long as their is INTERNET

  44. Really good article! Flash is here and here to stay. I am very glad Android is first to support mobile flash completely. Free flash games and web videos are the future. Apple users don’t know what they are missing.

    So check out our Android Flash Games portal if you like:

    It is also linked by clicking my name.

    Thanks Phandroid!

  45. Would have really appreciated if Adobe concentrated more on compatibility of 64 bit browsers with Flash player. Adobe is working with Motorola to bring flash player while you still cant install Flash player on 64 bit IE running on a 64 bit Windows… with adobe giving a workaround, to open the 32 bit browser or to use another browser….

    Sounds ridiculous isnt it?

  46. Well, from what I’ve researched, Flash isn’t working so well on the Android. Flash technology requires too many resources to run like it would on a PC. Mobile devices don’t have the battery or the processors to choke on that kind of processing. Let HTML5 grow into something beautiful. We need Steve Jobs to baby sit the electronic market or we won’t get solid products.

  47. Flash is an outdated technology that needs to go away on ANY platform. Simply annoying to use.

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