Android latest platform to drop Flash support

Adobe continues to pull the plug on its popular but controversial plug-in

As of today, Adobe's Flash media infrastructure is no longer supported on the Android mobile platform, marking a further shift of momentum toward the alternative HTML5 standard.

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The move is in keeping with Adobe's stated policy on mobile Flash, as the company announced in late 2011 that it would be abandoning its efforts in the smartphone and tablet market to focus on development for HTML5 -- an open standard touted as the future of rich Web content.

If you've already got the Flash plug-in on your Android device, it should still work, though official development has ceased, and users of Jelly Bean are out of luck in any case -- Adobe never developed a version of the platform for Android 4.1, and says that it has no plans to do so. Existing Flash installs on certified devices will continue to receive security updates, however.

That's an important consideration, as security is one of the key points that many of Flash's critics -- most famously, Steve Jobs, in his well-known letter explaining why he didn't want it on iOS -- point to as reasons why it's past time to switch to a different standard. Adobe's record of securing Flash is not a pretty one, which has made the framework a popular target surface for malware distribution.

While there's still plenty of Web content out there that depends on the Flash plug-in to run, the HTML5 standard is rapidly increasing in popularity -- so even though Adobe's decision might make some sites not function on Android devices, there shouldn't be a long-term loss of functionality.

The story is much the same on the other major mobile platforms, with the exception of BlackBerry OS -- Research In Motion has said it would continue to support Flash as well as HTML5 in the future. Future Windows Phone versions will have only limited support, however, and iOS, as mentioned, has never been interested in the framework.

Email Jon Gold at and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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