Mobile Flash – Going, going….(backup your .apk)

Adobe has confirmed the mobile Flash Player will be pulled from the Google Play store on August 15th. This means Android devices without the Flash Player will no longer have access to it. If you want Flash for your Android-based mobile device browsers, get it now!

In a press release, Adobe says,
“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.”

As Android ‘Jelly Bean’ (4.1) continues its rollout, the Flash web player is losing its compatibility. That doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work at all, but functionality will no longer be supported. Again from Adobe,
“If a device is upgraded from Android 4.0 to Android 4.1, the current version of Flash Player may exhibit unpredictable behavior, as it is not certified for use with Android 4.1.  Future updates to Flash Player will not work.  We recommend uninstalling Flash Player on devices which have been upgraded to Android 4.1.”

Once you have that software, it might be worth making a backup of the .apk file, because if you need to restore your device after August 15th, Flash Player will be hard to find! If you retain the installer file and have a ‘Jelly Bean Device’, there are hackish solutions if you REALLY want Flash on these newer devices – check out these Flash sideload options (via Droiddog).

And that doesn’t necessarily mean supported Flash solutions for mobile are completely gone. OEMs do have the option of working directly with Adobe to have a device-specific, certified Flash player pre-installed for their particular device. In the past, Blackberry was reported to have been one such vendor…though with their recent troubles, who knows if that’s still a pursued strategy. Here’s a list of current ‘certified’ devices. It’ll be interesting to see if that list grows, or is even maintained.

Also, Adobe appears committed to AIR for mobile (see: Build a Mobile App in Five Minutes), which is essentially a ‘wrapping’ process for creating a mobile app. Instead of relying on the device to have the Flash web player installed, the mobile player can be bundled with the application itself. Adobe AIR projects can be built using Flash or Flex (now an open source framework), and HTML/JS code can be integrated within those projects as well.

And, of course, Adobe’s continued support of HTML5 authoring continues to grow (see Dreamweaver/PhoneGap, Captivate, Flash, Flex, Edge, etc).

So while Flash for mobile browsers will be cut-off soon, Flash remains a viable tool for authoring and delivering mobile content, including ‘mLearning’, via AIR. As the Tin Can extension to SCORM becomes more fully rounded and supported, there remains a lot of potential for Flash-based mLearning applications. Our Inquisiq R3 LMS will be integrating Tin Can support sometime by Q1 2013.

(edit: Adobe and NBC used AIR to create the iOS and Android apps for this years Olympics. Pretty cool!)