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May 23, 2010

Flash in Android Froyo

Google has started updating Nexus One phones to Android Froyo and a pre-release version of the update file is already public. I updated my phone using a pre-rooted version from Modaco which doesn't require the stock recovery image.

Even if it's not included in Android, the Flash runtime is one of the few applications that require Android 2.2. Right now, you can install from the Android Market the first beta release for Flash 10.1.

Whether you love it or hate it, installing Flash changes the way you look at a mobile phone. HTML5 may be the future, but a lot of websites use Flash for playing video, music, games and interactive content. Instead of getting messages that recommend you to install the Flash plug-in, you'll see the actual content.

The trouble with Flash on a mobile phone is that most Flash content is designed for a computer and it's difficult to use on a device with a small screen. Video players have small buttons and it's challenging to click on one of them, some websites serve high-quality videos that aren't appropriate for a slow Internet connection, clicking on a Flash object is a disrupting experience because you might open a new page, pause a video or display the Flash content in full-screen.

I've tried to open many sites that use Flash and the experience isn't smooth. Animations are sometimes choppy, web pages load much slower, scrolling web pages that use Flash is slow and there's a lot of lag when zooming a page with Flash content. In some cases, the browser is no longer responsive for a few seconds and you need to wait until you can switch to another page. Fortunately, Adobe managed to optimize the code and using Flash doesn't drain your phone's battery much faster.

The version you can install from the Android Market is not the final release, but don't expect too many changes until next month. It's nice to have options, so I recommend to install the Flash runtime and to change the browser settings so that plug-ins are loaded "on-demand". This way, web pages will continue to load fast and you'll only display Flash content when necessary.

18 comments:

  1. Use "on demand" loading of Flash for a smoother browsing experience. http://mavrommatis.blogspot.com/2010/05/flashblock-for-android-not-needed.html

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  2. I always have problem with Flash. Sometimes it runs smoothly but often it freezes up for a second, runs a few seconds, freezes again.
    Happens at home (cable ISP) and work (T3). Even doing a Replay, where data is already downloaded, it freezes, so it's not a matter of connection speed.

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  3. Welcome to Flash on Linux. Flash can bring a dual-core desktop machine to its knees. You're lucky the video plays at all. In fact, I watched that video on my Linux netbook, and I had trouble telling when the problem was with the phone and when it was my Atom processor being crushed.

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  4. Daeng,
    I'm running Ubuntu Netbook Remix from my thumb drive (and loving it, I might add) on my old Dell. I tried to watch the video about slow laggy Flash, and what did I get? A slow, laggy YouTube video.

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  5. I wonder how likely this will turn out to be similar to the Apple vs Adobe non-debate that is currently circulating around the internet. Will Android eventually ditch Flash as well?

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  6. Why ditch it? Flash is not the only software that doesn't perform well on an Android phone and Google is not in the position to remove applications that don't have a great performance. Flash is just an ordinary application that's not even included in the OS. You can uninstall it, temporarily disable plug-ins or use them only when you need them.

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  7. The flash is still in beta and things may improve over time. I am also facing most of these issues. Especially the freeze. Maybe something with memory. I have the very same issue in my windows machine when the virtual memory is low :)

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  8. As a Flash developer I strongly urge Adobe to make the Flash Player for Mobile phones better (as in not buggy, slow, battery drain) - it would open a whole new world!

    Not to mention the Android Tablet... Can't wait to get my hands on one.

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  9. We just had an update on flash today on froyo, but i can't find the cangelog anywhere

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  10. I am a flash developer and been running flash site designed for PC on my HTC and except for some poorly programmed site which take ages to load on PC too have a bit of problem where it uses battery for sure but any fancy phones does in any ways

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  11. All you Flash developers make me laugh. Learn a REAL programming language and get with the future, or get the hell off the web.

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  12. @anon thanks troll-sheep. Your comment was most useful sir.

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  13. go to web browser setting and go to "enable plug-in" than select option "OFF" to disable flash 10.1 on android.

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  14. Disabling plugins in browser settings disables all plugin activity, not just flash. There needs to be a way to just enable and disable flash other than constantly installing and uninstalling the app, which mobile web developers are currently required to to for testing.

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  15. What? Flash is for designed for desktops? You mean you can't get the 'full web experience' on your mobile unless it is designed for the 'mobile experience'? Nonsense. Mobile devices are under powered. Flash can never work on them, its not a software fix. Face it, Jobs was right. Flash is trash.

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  16. Flash is the worst thing to happen to the web since advertising

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  17. what if mobile phones had fast processors and could very easily handle flash? flash is the future! flash is the nightmare of hard workers doing jobs in 2 weeks that a flasher can handle in 2 days. :-)

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