Ever get sent a link to a video in email, check it on your phone only to find you can’t play the video? It can definitely be frustrating. There could be a few reasons why you can’t play the video, and all of those reasons are variations of your phone doesn’t support it. Often it might be because the video file format is FLV (Flash). Does that mean you’re out of luck and have to wait until you get to a computer to watch the video? Not necessarily.
FLV PLAYER FOR MOBILE PHONES
Adobe’s Flash file format and phones – it’s a long story. Every year a new feature for phones emerges. At first, the special feature can only be found on a few phones. If it’s something that gets widely adopted by the mobile industry or if people start using it a lot then more and more phones will come out with support for that feature. We’ve all seen it happen; cameras on phones, the ability to add storage via removable miniSD and microSD cards, and the ability to access high-speed data networks.
A FLV player for mobile was one of those features. A few years ago, support for Flash started to appear on smartphones and people had access to a FLV player. Android phones started to come out with this feature. At the time, it wasn’t exactly clear why that feature should be included on phones. People weren’t really watching a lot of videos on phones and most of the websites visited were mobile sites that didn’t have Flash. Still, more and more phones started to support Flash with a FLV video player.
In the next year, smartphones started to improve giving people more reasons to start watching videos on a mobile phone. Screens got bigger. Displays became more vibrant. Processors for phones were more powerful. As the smartphones improved, the way people used them began to change. We started watching more videos on phones and the minimal information provided on mobile websites wasn’t enough. People began to download mobile browsers that could display full websites. There were plenty of sites that had Flash built-in to their web pages. If your phone didn’t support Flash and have a .flv player, you wouldn’t be able to view it.
THE FLV PLAYER TWIST
Of course while all this was happening there was a move to try to eliminate Flash on mobile devices led by Apple. Simultaneously, the Internet was changing and moving to a different programming language – HTML5. Adobe, the creators of Flash, had some serious thinking to do. At the end of 2011, the company decided to abandon the Flash plug-in for mobile devices.
While that put an end to the FLV player for mobile question, it doesn’t change the fact that Flash is still around. There are still plenty of websites that use Flash, though that’s changing as more sites adopt HTML5. Now that Adobe is no longer supporting mobile Flash, the company has increased its efforts with the Adobe Air app. Many mobile video apps support AIR.
DOES YOUR PHONE HAVE A MOBILE FLV PLAYER?
Let’s start with the phones that don’t support Flash or a .flv player. Feature phones don’t support Flash. These are more basic phones. They typically have a mobile web-browser, can take pictures, play music, screens are much smaller, and have some type of tactile keyboard. If you have a feature phone, you’re probably not watching mobile videos so needing .flv player isn’t an issue.
FLV players are really only an issue on smartphones released in the past couple of years. If you’re still using a phone you got in 2008 or prior, it likely doesn’t have a FLV player for mobile (FYI…It’s time to get a new phone). Similarly, if you have a newer Android phone running Android 4.1 it won’t have a FLV video player. If you upgraded an existing Android phone from the 4.0 OS to the 4.1 OS you may experience issues with the Android FLV player. Windows Phones don’t have a FLV player. The new Windows Phone 8 is vastly different from the existing Windows Phones. Those models won’t support a Flash Player since they are coming out this year, and Adobe has stopped supporting Flash on mobile devices. Finally, if you have an iPhone it doesn’t have a built-in Flash player.
In short, really only Android phones running version 2.0 or version 3.0 can support the FL player for mobile. In that case, you might already have a FLV player on your phone or you can download a third-party FLV video player from the Google Play store. To find out which Android OS you’re running select Settings on your phone and choose About Phone. Scroll to Android version and you’ll see the OS version running on your smartphone.
NOW WHAT? THE FLV PLAYER ANDROID ALTERNATIVE
Going forward, Adobe AIR will help you play many mobile videos on a smartphone. If you’re having issues viewing some content on mobile video websites then download the Adobe AIR app from the Goolge Play store. That should help. If you want to watch YouTube videos, chances are your smartphone already has a dedicated YouTube app. Select that to watch YouTube videos.
There is another option for people who want to transfer videos to a smartphone from a computer. Download the free version of RealPlayer Plus by clicking the orange button in the top right corner of this page. Even if it’s a FLV video you can convert it with RealPlayer. Then add those videos to the RealPlayer library. Connect your phone to the computer via a USB cable. Click on a video and then click Copy To and pick your device. RealPlayer will automatically convert the video into the format that will work with your phone. Then there’s no need to worry about if the video will play on your phone. You can even download the free RealPlayer Android app to play the videos on your phone.
For those still wondering if you need a FLV player for mobile phones, the quick answer is probably not. The Internet moves fast and the need for a mobile FLV player will soon become obsolete. Do you have problems playing FLV files on your phone? Would you rather convert videos first and then transfer them to your phone so you know they’ll work? Let us know in the comments below.