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Flash Player to vanish from Android store on Wednesday

Mobile users won't have Flash to kick around anymore

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If you really, really want to use the Flash Player plugin for Android and you haven't downloaded it already, you'd better move quickly. Tomorrow, August 15, is the day Adobe will pull it from the Google Play store.

The software maker has said it will adjust the configuration settings on the Flash Player page in Google Play on Wednesday so that future updates will only be visible to devices that already have a version of the plugin installed.

No new devices will be able to install the plugin from the store after that date, no matter what version of Android they are running.

The move comes as Adobe gears down its efforts to support the Flash Player on mobile platforms. As previously reported, Adobe has said it will not develop a Flash Player plugin for Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" nor any future version of Google's mobile OS.

Neither will it work with the search giant to get Flash running in its new Chrome browser for Android, found in the Google Play store for devices running Android 4.0 or later and which shipped as the default browser on the Chocolate Factory's fast-selling Nexus 7 tablet.

Instead, Adobe says it plans to concentrate its Flash efforts on desktop machines and on its Adobe AIR runtime for mobile devices, which allows developers to package Flash content as standalone mobile apps, rather than delivering them through the browser.

Adobe AIR is available in the Google Play store for devices running Android 2.2 and up, including Jelly Bean, and the Photoshop monger says it will continue to "actively invest" in AIR for mobile platforms, even as it abandons the mobile Flash Player.

All in all, that's probably a sound decision. For all the hype, the Flash Player for Android was never up to par with its desktop cousin. Flash performance was highly device-dependent, and with the exception of videos, Flash content formatted for desktop browsers was often a poor fit for tiny mobile touchscreens.

Android users who really, really, really want to install the Flash Player plugin after August 15 – or more likely, developers who need it to debug their Flash code on older Android devices – will be still be able to download older versions from Adobe's archive.

As Adobe points out, though, users who load the Flash Player directly in this way will not receive any future updates to the plugin, as they would if they had installed it from the Google Play store.

Adobe has said it will continue to provide critical bug fixes and security updates for existing installations of the Flash Player plugin on Android devices until September 13, 2013. ®

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