Jun 29 AT 2:10 PM Nick Gray 31 Comments

Flash Player won’t be updated for Android 4.1 – Adobe to block new installs on August 15th

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Back in November, Adobe announced that they would be discontinuing development of the Flash Player for mobile browsers. While Adobe isn’t quite ready to kill of Flash Player for Android, today they announced that Android 4.1 will not be officially supported. Going forward, Adobe will not be working with device manufacturers to certify Flash for individual handsets and they will also turn off new installations of Flash Player from Google Play on August 15th.

Devices that don’t have the Flash Player provided by the manufacturer typically are uncertified, meaning the manufacturer has not completed the certification testing requirements. In many cases users of uncertified devices have been able to download the Flash Player from the Google Play Store, and in most cases it worked. However, with Android 4.1 this is no longer going to be the case, as we have not continued developing and testing Flash Player for this new version of Android and its available browser options. There will be no certified implementations of Flash Player for Android 4.1.Adobe

Adobe’s announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Flash Player support within Android web browsers will surely be missed. While Flash support was viewed as a key differentiator between Android and iOS, it never lived up to its full potential. As more web developers embrace HTML5 and other standards, the gap left open by the removal of Flash support will not be as noticed.

If you don’t have Flash Player installed on your Android device (we’re not really sure why anyone wouldn’t), we’d suggest you get it now. Will Adobe’s decision to kill of Flash support on Android devices have a huge impact on the future of Android or will HTML5 and other web standards help push things forward on the platform?

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 We announced last November that we are focusing our work with Flash on PC browsing and mobile apps packaged with Adobe AIR, and will be discontinuing our development of the Flash Player for mobile browsers.  This post provides an update on what this means for ongoing access to the Flash Player browser plugin for Android in the Google Play Store.

The Flash Player browser plugin integrates tightly with a device’s browser and multimedia subsystems (in ways that typical apps do not), and this necessitates integration by our device ecosystem partners.  To ensure that  the Flash Player provides the best possible experience for users, our partner program requires certification of each Flash Player implementation.  Certification includes extensive testing to ensure web content works as expected, and that the Flash Player provides a good user experience. Certified devices typically include the Flash Player pre-loaded at the factory or as part of a system update.

Devices that don’t have the Flash Player provided by the manufacturer typically are uncertified, meaning the manufacturer has not completed the certification testing requirements. In many cases users of uncertified devices have been able to download the Flash Player from the Google Play Store, and in most cases it worked. However, with Android 4.1 this is no longer going to be the case, as we have not continued developing and testing Flash Player for this new version of Android and its available browser options.  There will be no certified implementations of Flash Player for Android 4.1.

Beginning August 15th we will use the configuration settings in the Google Play Store to limit continued access to Flash Player updates to only those devices that have Flash Player already installed. Devices that do not have Flash Player already installed are increasingly likely to be incompatible with Flash Player and will no longer be able to install it from the Google Play Store after August 15th.

The easiest way to ensure ongoing access to Flash Player on Android 4.0 or earlier devices is to use certified devices and ensure that the Flash Player is either pre-installed by the manufacturer or installed from Google Play Store before August 15th. If a device is upgraded from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1, the current version of Flash Player may exhibit unpredictable behavior, as it is not certified for use with Android 4.1.  Future updates to Flash Player will not work.  We recommend uninstalling Flash Player on devices which have been upgraded to Android 4.1.

For developers who need ongoing access to released versions of Flash Player for Android, those will remain available in the archive of released Flash Player versions.  Installations made from the archive will not receive updates through the Google Play Store.

As always this and other Flash runtime roadmap updates can be found in the Adobe roadmap for the Flash runtimes white paper. 

Nick is a tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC and its devices. He started HTCsource.com (the first HTC blog) back in 2007 and later joined the Android and Me family in the summer of 2010.

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