The use of Flash on Android devices has been a source of pleasure for many smartphone users. Its absence on iPhone devices and also on Windows Phone makes viewing some websites impossible and can be frustrating when browsing the web. So news from Adobe that a new Flash player will be available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus before the year is out will be welcomed.
The Nexus, released a fortnight ago in the UK and in the next two weeks in the US on Verizon Wireless, is the first Android device to be powered by Google’s new operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. Android 4.0, the latest version of the OS comes with face recognition software to unlock the phone and Near Field Communications sharing with Android Beam, as well as an improved interface and notifications system.
Inevitably, being the first of anything, bugs and flaws have been reported after the Nexus became available in the UK. There was some frustration when it became clear that the flagship Google device did not come with a Flash player built in. Scheduling problems were cited as the reason.
Now, whether an oversight or caused by timetable issues the problem is to be solved. Adobe has announced that Flash Player 11.1 will be available for the Nexus before the end of 2011. The team at Adobe Air and Flash Player revealed the news in their blog saying there was to be a “minor” update this month. However, the joy was probably short lived when Flash then revealed that the Ice Cream Sandwich update is likely to be the last version of Flash Player for mobile handsets, meaning it could be the last version of Android to support Flash. Big mistake or end of an era? Well it’s like the technology will be superseded by HTML5, largely being touted as the new generation of the Internet multimedia.
Another issue highlighted with the Nexus in the days after launch was a bug in the phone’s volume. A number of users reported the volume on the device would change without reason. It seemed to be limited to the 2G network frequency which is used by both O2 and Vodafone. Manufacturers do not have the time, or ability often, to test on every single frequency. The fact that 2G may be history for many smartphone users in a few years may have meant it was seen as a risk worth taking rather than an oversight. Samsung says they will be releasing an update to fix the bug. It will be an over-the air update, around 1MB and will be available in batches across Europe and the UK.
Teething problems for new devices are nothing new, as Apple would more than likely point out to Nexus. Samsung seems to have had a fairly problem-free rollout of their new handset and has responded to any complaints or bugs quickly. The fact that the Nexus will be the last Android phone to have a new Flash player, however, may not be cause for concern, but somehow it does feel like the end of an era, even if HTML5 is everything we hope it will be.