How to install Flash Player updates on Android devices

Previously, I wrote that updates to the Flash Player on Android 2.x and 4.0 seemed to be missing in action. Although the October 8th Security Bulletin from Adobe said that "Users of Adobe Flash Player 11.1.115.17 and earlier versions on Android 4.x devices should update to Adobe Flash Player 11.1.115.20," it didn't say how. The usual method, browsing the Play Store to see apps with available updates, doesn't show the Flash Player at all.

The situation with the Flash Player on Android is unusual. Not only is support limited to Android 2.x, 3.x and 4.0 (4.1 are later are not supported) but supported devices must have had the Flash Player installed prior to August 15, 2012.  

In addition, Flash support by Android 4.0 web browsers is all over the map.

  • It works fine in the default Android browser. 
  • It does not work at all in Google's Chrome browser
  • It works any way you want in Opera Mobile. The browser defaults to "Click to play" mode with replaces Flash content with a gray circle (see below). You have to click/press the white triangle inside the circle to run the Flash Player. Opera Mobile can also be configured with Flash enabled or disabled.
screenshot_android.operacrop.jpg

Although Flash does not appear in the Play Store app, it does show up in the web version of the Play Store, which turns out to be the missing piece of the puzzle.

Forrest Erickson, commenting on the previous blog, wrote 

You have to go to adobe's website to the downloads page and select get adobe flash from the browser, it will then take you to the page in the Google play store that will allow you to update it ... 

I verified this on Android 4.0, 2.3.4 and 2.3.5. However, it only works with the default Android browser. A browser that does not support Flash, or Opera Mobile in click-to-play mode, will incorrectly report that Flash is not supported. 

To simplify things, you can bookmark the Flash Player in the Play Store

screenshot_flashplayercrop.jpg

Or, perhaps better still, configure the Flash Player to allow automatic updating as shown above. As a rule, I don't use this option, but in this circumstance, it seems the best choice. 

According to the BBC, Adobe will "continue to offer security updates and bug fixes for existing versions [of Flash] until September 2013."

Many thanks, Mr. Erickson.

Update. November 21, 2012: For more on this, see  Updating Flash Player on Android now requires a hack

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