I was recently on holiday and one day found myself with a bit of spare time waiting for my family outside a wildlife park. Feeling the boredom, I decided to browse the web on my Nokia Lumia 920 and try to find something interesting to watch.
Now, I could have used the YouTube or BBC iPlayer apps; I could have relied on many other apps but instead I decided to have a browser-only mobile experience. The results, sadly, were mixed – the problem being that Windows Phone doesn’t support Adobe Flash.
Although the Internet Explorer mobile app has HTML5 support, if you want to enjoy media streamed using Flash you’re stuck. The alternative is to use HTML5 or apps from the Windows Phone Store that offer the media you’re looking for, streamed to your phone.
So why is Adobe Flash unavailable on Windows Phone, and why must you use an app?
Flash for Mobiles: The Current Situation
The first nail in the coffin for Adobe Flash mobile support came from Apple when the technology giant began restricting deployment of Flash-based apps on the iPhone and later the iPad. This was initially done under the auspices of improved security for users, but may well have been aimed more at blocking developers from releasing Flash games that can be played without the user accessing the Appstore.
Following this, in 2011, Adobe announced that Flash support would be withdrawn for mobile devices. Although it is still possible to install and run Flash on Android there is no more development of the technology for anything other than Windows and Mac OS X.
However, despite all of this, Microsoft was very interested in having a version of Flash developed by Adobe to run on Windows 8 (specifically in the Modern tile based interface). As Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are quite closely related, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that an official Flash app might arrive at some point.
Until then, however…
Watch Flash Videos on Windows Phone 8 with Apps
In order to enjoy Flash video clips and streaming websites on Windows Phone, you will probably need to use an app.
There are various popular video site apps for Windows Phone, such as YouTube (there are several of these), Vimeo, Dailymotion and BBC iPlayer. Each of these is free, simple to use and brings video streaming to your phone without Flash.
In addition, the Flash Videos app extends the number of Flash-based video streaming websites to include a wider selection of content types. However, this app isn’t free – you’ll need to spend $4.99 at the Windows Phone Store to use it, but it is very highly rated.
(Incidentally, beware of a dreadful app called Adobe Flash which is, despite the name, nothing of the sort. Rather, it is a collection of Adobe Flash-themed news feeds!)
Enjoy Streaming Video with HTML5
As mentioned above, Internet Explorer 10 mobile on Windows Phone 8 has good HTML5 support. This means you can enjoy videos that are streamed using this method. Many of the apps above also use HTML5 streaming.
You can try out HTML5 streaming for Windows Phone 8 devices by heading to the YouTube HTML5 opt-in at www.youtube.com/html5. Here you can join by tapping the Join the HTML5 trial button – but make a note of the items that are supported by Windows Phone, as illustrated here.
Once you have opted in, browse YouTube and find a video to view. The clip will open in your phone’s video player, streamed via HTML5. Note that you will have to have Desktop version selected as your website preference in Settings > Applications > Internet Explorer. Also note that YouTube advises that some videos with ads are not yet supported.
For more information on how HTML5 is supported on Windows Phone (and other platforms) head to http://mobilehtml5.org/. Meanwhile Joel’s article What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? explains exactly what HTML5 is and its impact on the web or get started learning HTML5 with our brand new guide written by Matthew.
What About Playing Flash Games?
Enjoy browser-based Flash games, perhaps in Facebook or one of the many Flash gaming sites?
Forget it – on Windows Phone, these websites cannot be used as the Flash-based game content simply won’t run. Unlike Android and iOS, there are few apps that can take the place of these browser based games – no Farmville or Mafia Wars, for instance.
If you’re an avid gamer, of course, there is little reason to want to play Flash games on Windows Phone, when you have access to a library of Xbox Live titles, your Xbox Gamertag and all of the achievements and points that come with them!
Conclusion: Want Flash on Windows Phone? Use Apps or Forget It!
The state of Flash for mobile platforms is one of decline. Indeed, it is fascinating to see such a widely used piece of software become overlooked and replaced in this way. Very few applications and utilities can claim to have been so widely used, but it does seem that Flash is on the way out – we’re currently enjoying its final days, thanks to the arrival of HTML5.
So, if you want to view Flash videos on Windows Phone 8, use an app that will stream the videos using a different platform. If you want Flash gaming on the same mobile device, forget it and start browsing the ever-growing Windows Phone Store instead.
With iOS banning Flash and Adobe withdrawing support for mobile devices while planning new ways to support HTML5, there is absolutely no reason for a Windows Phone device to support this increasingly archaic system.
Are you excited about HTML5 or do you mourn the departure of Flash? Let us know in the comments what could ease your the transition!
Image Credit: Angry Man via Shutterstock