Adobe may have cut support for Flash in Android Jelly Bean and beyond, but the great many sites and services that continue to make heavy use of the standard suggest it's far from dead. For those of us relying on a Jelly Bean or KitKat phone or tablet as our main computer, and who still want to access Flash content such as catch-up TV, online games and video, it's a real problem. Here's how to get around the issue and add Flash to Android, including Android KitKat. See Android Advisor.
While web developers are slowly moving to HTML5, we aren't convinced that computing is truly ready for a Flash-free world just yet. If you own a Nexus 7, Nexus 10, or any other tablet or smartphone running Android Jelly Bean or KitKat, by now you'll have noticed that many of the things for which you wanted that tablet - watching catch-up TV and online video, casual gaming - just don't work. In many cases apps are available that add the functionality, but do you really want to install individual apps for every Flash site or service that you use? Or turn on the dusty old desktop just to catch up with EastEnders on iPlayer? That's not very convenient. See Best smartphones of 2014.
We don't even want to think about the Flash problem: we want to continue doing what we want, when we want in our browser, and not deal with the continous headache of switching between apps to find a solution that works. This stuff should be seamless.
The good news is that although Android Jelly Bean and KitKat don't officially support Flash, it's really easy to add Flash support to the OS. Here, we show you some simple tweaks to enable the playback of catch-up TV, online video and Flash games on a Google Nexus 10 or any other tablet running Android Jelly Bean or Android KitKat.
Add Flash to an Android KitKat phone or tablet
Below we've explained how to add Adobe Flash to devices running Android Jelly Bean or older, but when Google launched Android KitKat it broke the workaround. (The Puffin browser is compatible with Android KitKat, although it's unlikely to meet all your Flash needs. So here we describe how to add Adobe Flash to Android KitKat.
The first step in adding Flash to Android KitKat is to open your Settings menu, scroll down to Security, then enable the box to allow the installation of apps from Unknown sources. It's worth remembering to turn this off after you've followed our guide.
Next you'll need the Flash installation file, which comes courtesy of surviveland at xda-developers forum. Google has blocked the download of the file from its original path, however, so to save you from reading through 50-odd pages of forum threads you can download the Flash installer for Android KitKat here. It's offered as a Dropbox download, so click to save it to your own Dropbox folder or download it to your Android KitKat phone or tablet. We chose the latter.
Drag down the notification bar at the top of the screen and tap on the notification that the Flash player file has been downloaded. In the window that pops up click Install, then choose Done.
To enable Flash playback in Android KitKat you'll need the Dolphin browser - free from Google Play. Once downloaded and installed open its Settings menu, ensure Dolphin Jetpack is enabled, then scroll down to and select Web Content. In the next window find Flash Player and ensure it is set to Always On.
Flash will now run happily within the Dolphin browser on your Android KitKat phone or tablet - you can see it here running our YouTube video portal.
If you're not happy to install unsupported software on your Android KitKat phone or tablet then you should check out 'Add Flash to Android: a quick fix' (below) for instructions on running the Puffin browser. Alternatively, if your Android phone or tablet is running Jelly Bean then scroll down further for instructions on adding Flash support.
Add Flash to Android: A quick fix
One of the simplest ways to add Flash to Android is to install Puffin Browser. Puffin builds in support for Flash, so all you need to do to add Flash to Android is install the browser via Google Play. Read our Puffin Browser review.
You don't have to use Puffin as your primary browser, but you may find it quickly grows on you - not only is it incredibly fast (we recorded 204.6ms in SunSpider on our Nexus 10 Android Jelly Bean tablet), it also has some neat touches such as a virtual trackpad and a gamepad, the latter allowing you to map any keyboard function to its onscreen controls.
There are some caveats, however. First, the Flash support within the browser is only a 14-day trial, and if you wish to continue using it you'll need to buy the full version of the app (£1.83). More importantly, Puffin's servers are based in the US, which means some content is restricted by UK websites. BBC iPlayer is one such example (and there's no workaround), but other Flash content such as videos on our Facebook page played flawlessly. We strongly recommend taking advantage of the free trial to see whether this will create problems with the content you want to view.
If Puffin Browser doesn't meet your needs, read on for a slightly more complicated but more efficient solution for adding Flash to Android.
Add Flash to Android: The preferred option
Step 1. You'll need to download a few free bits of software to enable Flash on your Jelly Bean tablet, including Flash Player itself. However, since this isn't supported on your tablet, you'll need to find it elsewhere than Google Play. Search online for 'android flash player apk' or head to this forum thread at XDA Developers, in which contributor stempox provides a download link.
Step 2. Before you can install Flash Player, you must enable Android to install software from unknown sources (remember to disable this option following installation). Open the Settings menu, then scroll down to and tap Security. Tick the box next to 'Unknown sources. Allow installation of apps from sources other than the Play Store.'
Step 3. Now find your downloaded Flash Player file and tap it to begin installation. If your download notification has disappeared, you'll need a free file browser app such as Android File Manager to find it (this won't be visible in Android's Downloads folder).
Step 4. Next, you need a browser that can support the Flash Player plug-in, such as Mozilla Firefox. Download Firefox Google Play, then fire up the browser. Tap the three horizontal lines at the top right of the browser window and choose Settings, and under Content choose Plugins. We recommend selecting the Enabled rather than 'Tap to play' option for a seamless Flash experience.
Step 5. At this point, you can interact with Flash content on any website within the Firefox browser on your tablet. You may find, however, that some websites will recognise that you're using a mobile browser on a Jelly Bean device, and hide the Flash content from view. And with ITV Player, for example, we were offered playback in portrait mode only.
Phony is a free Firefox add-on that fools websites into thinking you're using a desktop browser. You can access Firefox's add-ons from its home screen, or choose Add-ons from the top-right menu and tap the shopping basket icon. Having installed Phony, tap the top-right menu icon and choose Phony, then select Desktop Firefox as your User Agent and tap Ok.
Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.