Some have stated that the Flash video on Android phones is “startlingly bad“. That might be true, depending on your setup. But there are smarter ways to set up Flash on an Android and get some real use from it.
Image via RJL20.
First Things First: Make Flash “On Demand”
To fix that, at least on phones with the stock Android or generous manufacturer modifications, open your phone’s stock browser, hit the menu key, choose the “More” option, then pick “Settings”. Scroll down to find the “Enable plug-ins” entry, tap it, then pick “On demand” from the options that pop up. Now when there’s a Flash video or control on a page, it shows up with a downward-facing green arrow, which you can click to activate Flash for just that page. It’s a lot more hospitable than just hoping that sites have a good mobile version with minimal Flash.
Watch Shorter Videos or Use Mobile-Friendly Sites
In many tests of Flash video, the videos being loaded are longer takes or extended trailers in HD — the kind of thing you’d normally sneak into a lunch break at work. Depending on your device, this either works out decent or results in a kind of slideshow-like stuttering. That has to do with memory as much as processing power.
It’s not quite the advice you’d like to hear, but stick to shorter videos if you’re going to play them through Flash, and try to hunt down the non-HD version whenever possible. If you’re finding a video just impossible to play, head to m.youtube.com or m.vimeo.com, where most videos are available for non-Flash HTML5 streaming direct to Android phones — usually at better resolutions and rates than through Flash or the YouTube app too.
Use Flash Where It’s Useful: Work Sites, Restaurant Menus, Logins
Honestly, Flash isn’t something the Lifehacker editors use all the time while browsing on their Android phones — the editors that do have Android 2.2 running, anyway. It’s just something that’s available for sites that need Flash to work properly — for better or worse.
@keatonreckard noted that many restaurants and some businesses simply love Flash for displaying menus or even simple contact information. You can feel free to call up these businesses and browbeat their web managers, or refuse to frequent them on the principle that they must have hired a scammer for a web developer, but in the meantime, it’s helpful to have click-on Flash access to the information you’d like to know.
Alternatives for When Flash Simply Won’t Work
Had it up to here with too-slow Flash on your device but still want access to nifty videos around the web? You’ve got options in the form of free apps.
What Flash-on-Android tips and alternatives did we miss? Tell us how you find peace with Flash on your phone in the comments.