By the Time You Get Your Ice Cream Sandwich, Mobile Flash Will Be Ready

According to several reports, Flash for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be ready by the end of 2011. This will be the final release of mobile Flash as future versions of Android will support it. At this time that only means that Samsung Galaxy Nexus users do not get Flash and since that device (or Ice Cream Sandwich) is not yet widely released, Flash for new Android device users is not likely to be a problem.

The question becomes: does mobile Flash really matter? For Android in general, the answer is yes, Flash does matter. For Android 4.0? Maybe. It all depends on how many Android Gingerbread users get the ICS push within the next couple of months and how much they rely on Flash. Most Gingerbread devices will eventually see ICS updates. Yet, with HTML5 being pushed by developers, this is a fork that Android users will hardly notice.

What this really comes down to is Old Android verse New Android. New Android devices and applications do not really need Flash. Sure, it is nice to have, but not a necessary piece of software on mobile devices these days. With PhoneGap tools and HTML5, developers have been able to avoid Flash for a while now. Most new applications, even those made with Adobe AIR, do not need Flash specifically to function.

On the other hand, there is a lot of functionality that will be missed without some aspects of Flash for mobile on Android devices. Those using Android 2.3.4-7 have Flash pre-installed without likely realizing that it is there. That was also the first full build of mobile Flash that worked in the way that it was supposed to (even though technically it was available in Froyo 2.2). As of early November, 43.9% of Android users have Gingerbread. That means that they will eventually have ICS. Yet, if Flash is coming out by the end of the year then nearly 95% of those users will probably not miss it since it will take longer than that for the OEMs and carriers to push ICS to those devices (many of which just got Gingerbread in the first place).

For almost all users, the timetable for mobile Flash for Android 4.0 is a non-factor. Even for the next generations of Android (Jelly Bean?), the lack of it will not be a problem as mobile Flash is destined to soon become irrelevant with HTML5. Flash for older Android devices is not going anywhere and, according to Pocket-lint, mobile Flash continue to be support with critical bug fixes and security updates.

Do you really need mobile Flash on your Android Ice Cream Sandwich device? If you do, why? Let us know in the comments.

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