What the 'death' of Flash means for Android and the web

Now that Adobe has dropped Flash for Android, it's worth a look to see how this will change things and what direction we may be headed. Of course, you can still sideload an older version, but that's far from an end-game solution. We're all thinking that Adobe has something in mind, but let's focus on the current state of Flash -- both on the web and in applications.

Contrary to what you might have read today, Flash is far from dead. Only the ability to see it in our stock browser on Android. Adobe still supports Flash on Windows and Mac OS X, and Google's Chrome is pushing it forward for Linux. Flash is alive and well on the desktop, and will probably remain that way for a long while. You might be asking why -- that's a reasonable question. Adobe made it really easy to create Flash content, that's why. The tools to build Flash files were fairly expensive, but as easy to use as a standard video editor. Professionals could tweak it and do wonderful things, but more importantly anyone could dump a few things together and create Flash content. When something is that easy, people will use it. And the cost was easily mitigated by about a million torrents of the software.

We don't know how long Adobe plans to support Flash on the desktop, but the content won't be going away any time soon. HTML 5 does a great job at some things, but it needs a company like Adobe to step in and build tools to allow the average Joe (or Jane) to do anything with it. You can bet Adobe has some ideas here -- making the tools used to create content is what they do best. As more developers use HTML 5, and companies start making it easier for non-techies to use, it will grow in popularity. That's a good thing. A thing we want to happen, and it will. 

Right now, there are plenty of games and other interactive media on the web that uses Flash. Slowly, that will transmute into HTML 5 content, but what about the immediate future? Eventually sideloading an old version of Flash will stop working, and we will still want to see and play with the content that's already published. That's where Adobe Air comes in. There's a good chance you're already using Adobe Air on both the desktop and on your Android device, and don't realize it. Air is a way to build Flash-style content into an application and run it independently of the browser or any install of the Flash player app. Programs on your computer like TweetDeck use Adobe Air (or the Flash enabled Chrome version). On Android, apps like Photoshop Touch (opens in new tab) integrate Adobe Air. It's fairly simple for developers to use Air to build an Android app around Flash content, and as we've seen, easy is what drives development. Developers can take their Flash content, and using Air and the right tools, create a stand alone app for Android. We expect them to do just that.

Sideload Flash, and install Adobe Air (opens in new tab) from Google Play. Enjoy the current content as long as you can, and trust that things will work themselves out. They usually do.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • Just more reason to believe the world really is coming to its end this year! Nobody panic!
  • Nice write up Jerry. The sky isn't falling. Only a new transition to better, more stable content in the future.
  • Sideloaded stock browser and flash on Bugless Beast. All is good. Still getting used to chrome. I like having the old reliable option. Jelly Bean 4.1.1 on VZW Gnex.
  • Adobe stopped developing and supporting Flash on Android. ICS was the last release to have Flash. Adobe removed Flash from the Play store on August 15th.But That however doesn’t mean that you can’t get it.here is manual adobe flash installation guide for android device http://www.careace.net/2012/10/03/how-to-manually-install-flash-on-your-...
  • I actually hope that the discontinuation of Flash for Android (and the continued absence of Flash for iOS) leads to the death of Flash, period. I don't hate Flash or anything, but the sooner standards-based technologies like HTML 5 take over, the better. /Kevin
  • I work in multimedia development and I'd be happy to replace Flash with HTML5 tomorrow... if it was even remotely close in features, performance and development tools. Technologies like WebGL show a lot of promise but may never be in the HTML5 standard.
  • HTML5 does not need to replace complex flash features, but basics like video playback and website scripting, feature that web should not depend on Flash in first place. As for development tools and features.... check out what Adobe proposing to HTML and CSS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwOhfoewMYs I think you can figue out why exacly they want those features in HTML5 when they have them in whole mighty Flash that everyone is supposly addicted to. Oh, and if you like WebGL i bet you will also like CSS 3D Transformations
  • Funny how these tech sites celebrate the death of flash, but their videos can't be viewed on Chrome on my GS3. Happens here and the Verge. HTML5 is the future, we just dont code in it
  • Adding video is as easy as adding images in HTML5 ;p issue is the codec problem yet need to be solved, Mozilla dont want MPEG-4 AVC, MS and Apple dont want WebM. Without that issue i bet lot of sites would swtch to HTML5, since it's easy as adding images to website
  • Google's Chrome pushing it forward for Linux? ALL HAIL THE GREAT GOOGLE. No thanks to the all spying web browser, but I've been using flash on linux with Opera, Firefox and Chromium for a long time without the help of Google thank you very much. With that said, I won't miss flash and its super cookies, HTML5 videos couldn't be adapt sooner, but there is still the problem of a standard video format for it which will never be agreed on due to proprietary corps.
  • Wondering if Skyfire will allow viewing Flash content once it's compatible with Jelly Bean.
  • "Adobe still supports Flash on Windows and Mac OS X, and Google's Chrome is pushing it forward for Linux".... Chrome not pushing anything to Linux, it's a seperate software same as on other systems
  • Adobe is providing security updates, but all development of the NS Plugin version has stopped, per Adobe: http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplayer/2012/02/adobe-and-google-partnering-for-flash-player-on-linux.html
  • A guy in a tin foil hat told me that Apple paid Adobe $$$$ to drop Flash for phones. That way Android wouldn't have the Flash advantage over Apple.He also told me something about the Kennedy assassination but I didn't believe him.
  • A guy told me that Apple will switch to Android by 2015... yeah, making up stuff is fun!
  • Flash will die a slow death as mobile grows while the PC market tails off. Developers should be switching to Air, HTML 5 or native apps unless they don't care to have their content available on hundreds of millions of phones and tablets.
  • Jerry is correct. A lot of the people that always decried flash cheered when it's downfall started. I remember an Adobe rep saying that it wasn't a big deal to them, as all they had to do was make a HTML5 product that allowed integration with their already dominating content creation products, and the market would remain theirs anyway. They have, by the way. I believe Flash authoring software has an export to HTML5 in it. More than that, there is a new product coming. It has been in the works for a while, though it is still in beta. It is called Edge. http://edge.adobe.com/
  • One thing that I liked about flash was that I could set my plug ins on demand. Flash content would just be place holder. I could click it when I wanted to see it. With HTML 5 content just plays without input. It's very annoying to hear a commercial play for a product that I have no interest in using. I wish hat ads would show a screen, play a small animation and a "click here" to find more. Autoplay makes me hate the product being advertised.
  • The downside right now is that some sites, like Amazon's Prime streaming video requires either Flash, or an app. iOS and the Kindle Fire have apps, but devices that come out with Jelly Bean are currently left out. The question is, how soon do sites like Amazon change from Flash based video, or how soon do they open up their video app for other Android devices?
  • The comments on the Play store for Adobe Air are hilarious! I suggest everyone read them. Great for a laugh or two.
  • Jerry, you hit the nail on the head. I've been a Flash developer for 10 years and Flash as a tool is relatively easy to use. ActionScript allows all kinds of interactivity that just wouldn't be possible for a small team or single person to develop. What the haters don't realize is that by calling for Flash's head on a pike they are killing all the creative energy and experimentation that comes from this part of development community. I guarantee that in 5 years when HTML5 is in full swing, the same people will be complaining that some junior developer in a marketing department created a banner add that crashed their browser. Flash doesn't crash browsers, bad programming does.
  • "Contrary to what you might have read today, Flash is far from dead" Lies! LIES I tell you! I *know* Flash is dead because a shady, overly aggressive sales guy with a black turtleneck, zero fashion sense, and no regard for user customization of his company's overpriced gadgets *told* me it was dead 5 years ago. And we all know salesmen never lie for personal gain, so Flash must already be dead. Now excuse me while I go find a new bucket of sand to bury my head in.
  • So, I understand that it will not be preloaded on new devices going forward. What about OS updates? Think they are going to remove it that way as well, as we get into Andriod 5.x?
  • I have two problems with this, First; It seems to me something like flash should not be discontinued until there is a proper replacement in place... Why was it stopped? Its been on my last 4 Android devices, always worked fine and always enjoyed/benefited from having it. Now there are big black blank spaces on most of the websites I visit, doesn't seem like a very smart decision. Secondly; My own website for my company used flash content created by Picasa and Google+. These two Google services still create content using flash, but people can't view it on their Google phone... I just can't wrap my head around that one. If I was at Google and knew flash was no longer going to be available for Android phones I would update things like Picasa integrated web albums to HTML5 so they were still viewable on Android devices. I use things like QR codes on my advertising which take clients to a (formerly) useful website. Now we are trying to figure out how to "fix" our website, when truthfully its not broken. Google really dropped the ball with this whole mess.
  • I'm a flash developer (well technically flex), and we've been hearing rumours from Adobe that they are planning on switching the compiler so that the ActionScript and MXML code you would normally compile into a Flash app will instead compile into HTML5. On the other hand, the way they are going about his transition is annoying in my opinion. They should have first switched the development tools to create HTML5 content, and then stop supporting flash.
  • I just upgraded my flash player to the latest version I am running 4.1.2 JB and flash is no longer working. Any help would be great. I tried uninstalling flash and installing 10.1 again with no luck????