Contrary to what some might say, Flash isn't the saviour of the universe. But Flash video, audio and animations are all over the Interwebs, which means we want to have them on our mobile phones and tablets too. We've rounded up the platforms and their various versions that support the software, so you don't have to.
If you want to check if your existing phone or tablet supports Flash, visit m.flash.com in your mobile device's Web browser. If it doesn't support Flash, a message will appear telling you so.
Google's Android operating system powers smart phones and tablets, and it's definitely the main focus of Adobe's mobile muscle. But not all Android devices are created equal.
The first Android phone with Flash was the HTC Hero. It came with Flash Lite 3.1, a cut-down version of Flash for mobiles without much processing power. But newer Android phones go the whole hog, supporting Flash Player, which has more features and plays more types of content than Flash Lite.
Phones that run Android 2.2 Froyo, 2.3 Gingerbread or later generally come with Flash Player 10.1 pre-installed. If you don't have it, visit the Android Market on your phone to install it. But bear in mind that your phone has to meet the minimum system requirements. That means your handset must have an ARM Cortex-A8 processor running at 550MHz or more if the display has a 480x640-pixel resolution, and 800MHz or more in the case of a 480x800-pixel display.
From 18 March, an even newer version of the software, Flash Player 10.2, will be available from the Android Market, according to Adobe.
Flash Player 10.2's new features include hardware acceleration for H.264 video. It also polishes up how Flash is rendered in the Web browser so that scrolling, for example, is smoother. It works better with the on-screen keyboard too, which we imagine will be handy when playing Flash games.
Also on 18 March, some tablets running Android Honeycomb will receive the beta version of Flash Player 10.2. But you'll need to have the Android 3.0.1 software to get the update. Honeycomb tablets that were sold with plain old Android 3.0 Honeycomb, such as the Motorola Xoom in the US, won't have Flash until this update rolls around. That's life on the bleeding edge, folks.
Adobe has helpfully published a list of Android mobiles that support Flash Player, but it doesn't include many fabulous phones from Mobile World Congress 2011. The Samsung Galaxy S 2, HTC Desire S and Motorola Atrix, for example, will all support Flash.
Nokia's former favourite software may have been kicked to the curb in favour of Windows Phone 7, but it's still on millions of current smart phones. If you've got one of them, you can help yourself to Flash Lite.
Since Flash Lite is a stripped-down version of the software, it works on phones with lower specs, slower processors and smaller screens than those required by Flash Player.
The latest version of Flash Lite is 4.1, which is based on Flash Player 10 and adds multi-touch support and the ability to play ActionScript 3.0 content. As far as we can see, Flash Lite will only work on Symbian S60 and Symbian 3 devices, such as most recent Nokia smart phones, including the N8 and C7, and quite a few older Samsung and Sony Ericsson handsets.
Flash Lite was also the Flash version of choice for Windows Mobile phones. We don't like to mention that software, though. We'll still suffering from post-traumatic stress.
If you want to get Flash Lite on your Nokia, tap on over to the Ovi Store to install it.
Steve Jobs published a beard-stroking meditation on Flash in April 2010, but let us summarise it for you. If you have an iPhone, you are never getting Flash. Never, never, never. Blah, blah, proprietary product, you don't really need it, slow and insecure, makes devices crash, eats your battery, blah. The upshot is that Satan will be skating to work before you get Flash.
You can still look at video and other media on the Web in other formats --just not Flash. That is all.
None of the above
BlackBerry smart phones have been rumoured to be getting Flash support for years, but the first device from RIM to play Flash will be its tablet, the PlayBook. It may take a while for this feature to trickle down to the company's small-screen devices. That's because the operating system on the tablet, BlackBerry Tablet OS, was specially designed for it, and upcoming phones will use a different one -- BlackBerry 6 OS.
Hardly anyone owns the Nokia N900, a smart phone that runs the Maemo OS. But, if you do, congratulations -- it supports Flash. In this case, Flash Player 9.4 is supported, but you probably won't get an update to a later version now that Maemo has morphed into MeeGo. Last summer, Adobe announced that Flash Player 10.1 would come to MeeGo, but that was before Nokia effectively excused itself from its MeeGo partnership with Intel. This one is up in the air.
It's been over a year since Adobe started promising that Flash Player would come to Windows Phone 7, but we've seen neither hide nor hair of it yet. Adobe may be waiting for the Windows Phone 7 browser to get a refresh -- Microsoft has said that the current one doesn't support extensions such as Flash. It looks like Flash is on the cards for Windows Phone 7, but don't hold your breath.
Have we missed anything out? If so, let us know in the comments section below.