Ever since Steve Jobs delivered the biggest possible blow to Adobe's ego in late 2010, the war between HTML5 and mobile Flash has heated up. Apple chose not to use Adobe Flash – which Jobs basically called a relic – on iOS while its largest competitor, Google, gladly supported Flash in its Android mobile operating system.
And so the war began ... Flash was in every Android fanboy's repertoire for bashing iOS, and every iOS user cringed at the thought of not having Flash support from their favorite devices. Okay, maybe not everyone was so caught up in bickering and gloating over their Flash support – or lack thereof. But a great divide was created and the back and forth between HTML5 and Flash still gets pretty heated to this day.
However, in November of last year, Adobe announced it would soon stop development of Flash for mobile devices. They would no longer update mobile Flash to work with new browsers, chipsets, OS versions, etc. Their official statement read as follows:
"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 continue to develop Flash Player in the browser to work with new mobile device configurations (chipset, browser, OS version, etc.) following the upcoming release of Flash Player 11.1 for Android and BlackBerry PlayBook. We will of course continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing device configurations. We will also allow our source code licensees to continue working on and release their own implementations."
This meant anything that had support for Flash would continue to work, so long as the user didn't upgrade the operating system. But we had no idea how soon Adobe's decision would affect users. As soon as February, we were met with the very first realization that Flash would be killed off on mobile sooner rather than later. Google introduced the Chrome for Android Beta and just hours later, Adobe confirmed they would not update Flash to support the new browser.
Support for an aftermarket browser is one thing, though. Support for an OS version is something entirely different. And now that Google has made Android 4.1 Jelly Bean official, we have finally met the end of the (official) line of mobile Flash on Android. Adobe said this morning that Jelly Bean will never get support or certification for Flash. What they didn't say, however, is if Flash will ever work on 4.1 – I have seen some Galaxy Nexus owners claim Flash works just fine on Jelly Bean, even without official support. But it can go either way with future OS versions and devices.
But Adobe is going one step further. In a move we didn't see coming, Adobe is removing the Flash application from the Play Store and no longer allowing Google Play installs as of August 15. What that ultimately means is you will need to hunt down the APK on your own and hope it still works in your device and OS configuration moving forward.
We all knew this day would come eventually, but we weren't exactly sure how far away Adobe actually was from pulling the plug completely. Now we do: only a month and a half. So download and backup Adobe Flash and make a backup of your backup if you're worried about losing Flash entirely. Oh, and remember not to upgrade to future OS versions, too.
The question now is: how do you feel about losing Flash support on Android? Even if you don't lose support immediately, either with your next device upgrade or software update, Flash may quit working. How will you feel once the time comes?
Of course, it's never a good thing when services get canceled. I'm sure a lot of folk will be upset. But for me, Flash has never been all that important. I don't do a lot of Flash-intensive stuff from mobile browsers, and most embedded videos these days are hosted by YouTube and don't require Flash. In fact, I usually have Flash turned off in the stock Android browser and only use it as needed. I can count the number of times I have ever needed it in the past two years on one hand. And I have been using a few different iPhones for well over a year now and have never missed Flash support once.
Tell me, Android fans. Will you be upset once your device or operating system version is no longer supported by Adobe Flash? Do you ever use Flash at all? Or, like me, do you use it sparingly to help speed up mobile browsing?