Dear Lifehacker, I’m now so reliant on my mobile devices that I only rarely use my laptop. It is far more convenient to use the phone or tablet to look up something. But one challenge I’ve encountered is viewing TV show episodes on an Android device. The problem is that they virtually all use Flash. Is there an elegant solution that would work for all channels without installing channel-specific applications? Thanks, Eager Viewer
Picture: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Unfortunately, the short answer is “no” — there is no elegant solution. Most Australian networks have relied on the use of Flash for their online broadcasts, both because it’s widely available on desktop devices and because it provides a well-understood method for securing shows. Australian broadcasters have to ensure that their online sites aren’t accessible outside Australia. This is annoying, but it’s a fairly standard condition when buying the rights to shows.
This wasn’t a problem when Android supported Flash, but once Google dumped the platform, Android device users were left essentially TV-free. If the media service you want to watch offers an app, you can use that, but there’s no obvious and reliable alternative solution. (There have been various hacks designed to reintroduce Flash to Android devices, but these are unpredictable at best.)
In the long term, many of these TV sites are likely to convert to using HTML5, which Android does support, and which will create an effective cross-platform solution. This is the path being pursued by the ABC’s excellent iView service, for example. The newly-announced Google Cast technology might also be useful, but the Chromecast dongle isn’t yet offered in Australia.
Until HTML5 is more widely adopted, you may need to hang onto your laptop for catch-up viewing, or invest in a smart TV that includes built-in apps for Australian channels. (If readers have other workarounds they use, please share them in the comments.)
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