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A Complete Guide to Flash on BlackBerry Smartphones

written by: JLachkovic•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 8/31/2011

Are you struggling to play an Adobe Flash video or use a Flash application on your BlackBerry smartphone? At the moment BlackBerry smartphones don't have full support for Flash. Find out the status of Flash on your BlackBerry and a work around in this Bright Hub guide.

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    Adobe Flash

    Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform and framework for interactive online content and rich multimedia. Adobe Flash, formerly Macromedia Flash, was first developed in 1993 as a very simple, vector-based Web animation tool. The technology expanded throughout the 1990s, introducing the interactive elements throughout.

    Adobe Flash now integrates with other innovative multimedia and dynamic content protocols including Flex and ActionScript.

    Throughout the 2000s, Flash became the de facto standard as an online video player with companies such as YouTube utilizing the platform for video delivery.

    There are two primary types of Flash files - the ShockWave Flash movie (SWF) and Flash Video (FLV). ShockWave Flash is used by many Flash games online, where interactive content and animation is the primary purpose. By contrast, Flash Video is used for video content as found on video steaming websites.

    Along with the interactive and video Flash types, there is also a Flash Audio file type and format. Flash Audio, a container format, is utilized by Flash Video. As a container format, Flash Audio still requires other codecs to encode the audio. Flash Audio was most commonly encoded with MP3 or the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) codecs, though with the rise in popularity of MPEG-4, Flash Audio now features the same container capabilities seen in the MP4 container.

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    No Official Support

    The Adobe Flash platform is primarily developed for computers and so mobile phone platforms still lag behind in support for the protocol.

    In 2009, Research In Motion, BlackBerry's developer, announced a new stage to their partnership with Adobe. That partnership included the expansion of Adobe products, primarily the Creative Suite and Flash, on Research In Motion devices. In the announcement, Research In Motion declared that the Flash Player would be coming to BlackBerry smartphones, though no deadline or release was officially set.

    In Summer 2011, Research In Motion released a new wave of BlackBerry handsets utilizing the new BlackBerry 7 operating system. BlackBerry 7 was previously named BlackBerry 6.1, as it acts more as an update to BlackBerry 6, than a completely new operating system. Originally BlackBerry 7 was rumoured to be based on the QNX operating system and would thus support Flash natively. With the release of the BlackBerry Bold 9900, the first BlackBerry 7 device, it became clear that it would not support Flash natively.

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    Plans for Official Support

    Since 2009, Research In Motion has planned for Flash support in their BlackBerry operating system. Following the release of BlackBerry 6 in 2010, many users expected BlackBerry 7 to use the new QNX framework. QNX is the Unix-based operating system deployed on the BlackBerry PlayBook. The PlayBook and QNX has full Flash support inbuilt. In October 2010, Adobe announced that Flash Player 10.1 was coming to BlackBerry smartphones, along with the Windows Phone 7 platform.

    While there has been no official announcement, it is expected that the next generation of BlackBerry handsets will be developed with a QNX-based operating system and thus support Flash natively. That's a good reason not to buy a new BlackBerry right now.

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    Using Flash on BlackBerry

    While the BlackBerry smartphones do not support Adobe Flash officially, there are workarounds for using Flash on your BlackBerry. Even with these workarounds, you will not have full Flash support for your phone, only emulated Flash Video support. For most users, this is all that you will need as it means you can play Flash Video form website such as YouTube.

    Player for YouTube and XENOZU

    Player for YouTube and XENOZU are two YouTube video playing applications for the BlackBerry. Both are available from the App World and work in similar ways. After you've installed the client, you enter a YouTube URL or do a YouTube search, find the video you want and then open it to play. Both of these emulate the video support from YouTube so that you can watch the videos on your handset. Neither of these applications have positive reviews on App World as many find that the applications rarely work.

    Bolt Browser

    Another alternative to playing Flash Video on your BlackBerry is to use a different Web browser. The Bolt Browser, like the YouTube playing devices, does not fully support Flash but it allows you to play videos that are stored in the FLV content. As Bolt features this capability within the browser, it also means you can attempt to play FLV video from other sources as well. Like the various YouTube players, this is still not guaranteed to work and so your best attempt to play Flash on your BlackBerry is to use a combination of the various available applications.