Featured: R.I.P. Flash on Android, We'll Miss You

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Flash on Android

I remember when I got my first Windows 95 computer. On it, came standard this fancy new inclusion, today we know it as the CDROM. It was the first time I had a supplement to the tried-and-true floppy disk. The CD ushered in an era of much larger storage, faster download times, and one-disk installations. However, the floppy disk didn’t go away. When I needed to move a document from one computer to another, I picked up the 3.5″ coaster. Or if I just had a few pictures to share, the floppy was a cheap way to pass those out. It really wasn’t until thumb drives and faster internet did I finally stop picking up those little square disks.

Well, this sounds all too familiar to the plight of Adobe’s Flash. Flash, like the floppy, established itself as a standard. If you wanted animation on a webpage, you used Flash. If you wanted to have a video play, you used flash. If you wanted to spice up a normally bland HTML field, throw in some Flash. And just like the floppy, it’d be supplemented by some modern approaches at old tricks. New libraries of Java Script and HTML5 saw the first threats but Flash kept going because for what it did, it did it best.

That promised to continue into the mobile platform with Adobe saying they’ve “passed a major milestone in bringing a desktop experience to mobile and transforming the wireless industry.” That was 2007. What they didn’t expect was an industry leader who was more than willing to go to “thermonuclear war” over any company and standard he didn’t like. We’re of course talking about Steve Jobs.

Mr. Jobs and Apple decided early on they wouldn’t allow the family of iProducts to have Flash. Citing security holes, they nearly put the final nails in the coffin. However, Android’s wild popularity and extraordinary growth gave Flash a chance. Since Android 2.2 Froyo, they’ve had full Flash support. That, tomorrow, changes.

In November of last year, Adobe had this to say about the future of mobile support for Flash:

Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.

Not only have they pulled their support for Chrome on Android, tomorrow, August 15th, they’ll be pulling their Flash App from Google Play effectively marking the official end. What does this mean? If you want to have Flash on your device, you need to visit Google Play tonight and get it installed. Otherwise, you may be looking for an APK to side load.