Adobe Abandons Mobile Flash – Should You Care?

eHow Tech Blog

Adobe is killing mobile Flash. We’ve known that for quite some time now, but the casket starts to descend in just a week — on August 15th. Why? Well, in a nutshell, HTML5 is winning the war for the hearts and minds of mobile platform developers.

That’s because HTML5 is a more efficient way of displaying media online.

Worse, Flash is a notorious battery drain and resource hog. Everyone has known that since it was first introduced on Android devices, years ago. And that’s exactly why Steve Jobs didn’t allow it on Apple’s iOS products.

Are you affected? For the most part, Android users will see the largest impact. Currently, you can browse to any website on an Android device and take advantage of the Flash content, and after August 15th you’ll still be able to, so that’s the good news.

On the other hand, Adobe isn’t putting any more effort into continuing into develop mobile Flash (aside from the occasional security update). Adobe has also said it will never release a certified Flash player for the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system.

It’s worth pointing out that anyone who purchases a new Android device that’s released after August 15th might run into trouble if they try to install Flash. Adobe will no longer test for or update the platform for device compatibility.

“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 company explained in a recent press release.

BlackBerry and iOS users won’t be affected because they already don’t support Flash. Well, I take that back a bit: The few people who own a BlackBerry PlayBook will also see dropped support for the web standard.

How are you affected? Oddly enough, people still send Flash content to one another, often in the form of photo albums and videos. This was a particular frustration for a friend of mine, who had recently received several videos of her godson but couldn’t watch them on her iPad. Once Flash is dead, the same situation will occur for Android users.

Flash is also particularly useful for viewing embedded videos and playing Flash-powered web games. So ultimately, you’ll have to kiss the days of playing free games on goodbye.

What are the alternatives? Personally, most of my interaction with Flash has been through watching video. Thankfully, YouTube Mobile already supports HTML5, so you’ll still be able to watch those crazy videos of cats playing the piano.

Adobe also said that it’s not ditching mobile video support on the web. The company  will continue to offer alternatives to Flash, including Adobe AIR, which offers the same Flash-based video features. Air is supported on devices running Android 2.2 or newer and powers applications such as iTV, WatchESPN and Snagfilms.

Is it a big deal? Ultimately, no. You’ll still be able to view video content, still play HTML5-based games and surf the web as normal. The only change is that you won’t be able to access anything built using Flash. But, as the web moves ever more rapidly towards HTML5, you’ll see less and less of it anyway.

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