As of the 16th August the Android mobile platform is no longer supporting Adobe’s Flash media as it looks to move over to the HTML5 standard. This move is in response to Adobe’s decision to move away from mobile Flash development for smartphones and tablets in favour of developing HTML5, which is an open standard that enables developers to develop apps for multi-platforms in a fast and cost effective way.
Back in late 2011, Adobe announced this strategic focus with the following statement:
“HTML5 is the best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms….We are excited about this, and will continue our work with key players in the HTML community, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and RIM, to drive HTML5 innovation they can use to advance their mobile browsers."
Although further development has been halted, any Flash plug-ins that you have installed on your Android device should still work and will continue to receive security updates. However, this will only be available on devices using Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 and older operating systems, as Flash was never developed for use with the latest Android operating system, Jelly Bean 4.1.
Security concerns surrounding Flash have often been a cause for concern, being cited as the main reason why Apple notably decided that it did not want to support Flash; a decision that was documented in a letter by Steve Jobbs where he detailed his reasons for not wanting Flash. Both the iPhone and the iPad were launched without Flash and both devices have proven to be hugely successful, even though many critics of the iPhone have cited the lack of Flash as a major drawback for their products.
Apple also went a step further by removing Flash Player from their Macs, where it had previously been a pre-installed application. Following the exclusion of Flash from Apple devices, Adobe focused on Android and became increasingly popular with Android fans. But as predicted by Apple, Adobe then went on to suffer many security issues with Flash, a reason that made it become one of the most popular targets for malware. Another issue that has been instrumental in its downfall is the fact that it uses a higher level of power in order to run and rapidly uses up your battery life.
With the internet developing faster than ever, developers have been moving over to HTML 5 for a wide variety of reasons, but the main reason as explained by application developer Kevin Sweeney is that:
"We've needed to rely on third parties like Adobe Flash or QuickTime and had to embed this inside web pages. What HTML5 will do is remove them from the equation so this stuff is supported natively.”
That may all sound a bit technical but basically when we’re using the internet it means that pages we visit are more likely to work first time and we won’t be asked to ‘download a plug-in’ to make the page work, as all too often we just give up on that site and click on the next one down on the Google search results.
Ironically, part of the success of HTML 5 is in fact the success of Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPods, as without Flash they suffered from a lot of these website ‘black holes’ and in response many businesses and websites had to re-code the multimedia content of their websites in order to be viewed by Apple devices.
HTML 5 is also preferred by web developers, as it allows them to be more creative and innovative with their apps. Google who themselves use HTML 5 to create their front page doodles, is also focusing on pushing HTML 5 into the market place. They have realised that by creating more impactful web pages results in a higher click through rate on their site, which in turn creates higher levels of advertising revenue for Google.
In summary, Adobe’s decision to focus on HTML5 comes in light of its rising popularity and although many websites still rely on a Flash plug-in to work properly, most mobile platforms are moving away from it. There is however an exception, which sees BlackBerry choosing to support both HTML5 as well as Flash, a decision made by its owners, Research in Motion (RIM).