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Flash support coming to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich before 2012

by Phil Hornshaw

The next big update for Google’s Android mobile operating system doesn’t support Adobe Flash, but it will in the future, an Adobe representative has confirmed.

TechCrunch has the story. Adobe confirmed to tech site Pocket-lint that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has Flash support coming, and will be available by the end of the year. Rumors were circulating that Flash would be coming to the latest version of Google’s industry dominating operating system, and now it’s official – but there’s some waiting to be done.

Getting Flash supported by some mobile devices has been a struggle for Adobe. Android has supported the software, used largely on the Internet and in other applications such as games, but Apple’s iOS mobile operating system doesn’t. Apple argues that Flash takes a serious toll on its devices’ battery life, among other issues, which is why you can’t get Flash website to work on an iPhone or iPad’s version of the mobile Safari web browser.

Despite coming to Ice Cream Sandwich, however, mobile Flash is pretty much dead in the water. Adobe said not long ago that it won’t continue to develop the software; it seems that the ICS update is basically Flash’s last hurrah on smartphones and tablets before Adobe starts to refocus its resources elsewhere. As TechCrunch reports, Adobe apparently found that it wouldn’t ever be able to get mobile Flash on as many devices as it hoped. While Flash players reside on some 99 percent of PCs, on mobile devices the numbers are considerably less.

Add that to the fact that Apple adamantly refuses to consider Flash for its devices and Adobe found itself in a situation in which to push Flash would mean that web developers would be creating mobile web experiences that worked for some devices and not others. With Apple out of the game, taking its considerable market share with it, it seemed that Adobe found trying to push mobile Flash to be an uphill, losing battle.

For owners of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone, the first device to carry Google’s ICS, Flash isn’t going to be forthcoming just yet, however. Like iOS users, there’s no Flash support on ICS as it stands and no older version of the software that ICS users can download in the meantime. For now, Galaxy Nexus users have to wait for Adobe to put together the patch before they can use Flash at all.

Meanwhile, Adobe plans to switch its support to HTML5 for the kinds of things that Flash does now, so expect to see a lot more support for that in the future on all mobile devices, not just Android ones.