Flash on Android: Look but Don't Touch

Not the droid you're looking for

To be fair to Adobe, while Flash Player 10.2 is in production release for Android 2.2 and 2.3 smartphones, it's classified as a beta for Android 3.0. It's entirely possible that some of the problems I encountered will be fixed in the final release. And yet, when I tried the same tests on an Android 2.2 smartphone, the only problem Flash Player 10.2 resolved was the leaping game window; the Flex applications were just as impossible to use as on the Xoom. Whether you're on a smartphone or a tablet, there's no getting around the fact that many Flash apps simply aren't designed to work with touchscreens.

As it stands, Flash support offers no reason for buying a Xoom instead of an iPad. If you were hoping the Flash player would enable a whole new world of content, you will be disappointed. Flash sites on Android devices are utterly hit or miss. And if you're deploying Flex applications for your business to be accessed on mobile devices, my advice is to switch to HTML immediately. On the other hand, if you're enthralled by animated Web advertising, the Flash Player will be right up your alley.

There is one other detail worth mentioning, however: Adobe AIR, the runtime that allows Flash content to run as stand-alone applications, is available as a separate download for Android 3.0. You do not need to install the Flash Player or enable Flash content in the browser to use AIR apps, and from what I can tell, the AIR apps currently available in the Android Market seem to work nicely. The main difference is that these apps were built specifically for Android smartphones and tablets -- and if you're going that route, why not use the Android SDK instead of Flash?

On the plus side, claims that the Flash Player drains battery life seem to be mostly unfounded. I didn't find it consumed much more power than your average game, for example. But you know what uses even less power than the Flash Player for Android? Not installing it.

This article, "Flash on Android: Look but don't touch," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read Neil McAllister's Fatal Exception blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Read more about mobile technology in InfoWorld's Mobile Technology Channel.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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