Google search warns mobile users of potential Flash clash

Sites that rely heavily on Flash elements will soon be flagged in mobile Google searches.

Google is on a tear to clean up search results for mobile devices. The company recently announced it would start warning smartphone and tablet users if a site is unlikely to work well on their mobile device.

Sites that are entirely based on Adobe Flash, for example, should end up with a warning for most mobile users. Flash does not work on iOS and Android devices running Android 4.1 or higher have also dumped the web plugin.

In our tests, searching for several well known Flash-heavy sites, Google was not yet displaying the warnings. When they do show up, however, the warnings will look like the image above with an explanation about why the site won't work and an option to try visiting the site anyway.

Besides saving mobile users the annoyance of an extra few taps, Google is also hoping the new tactic will encourage webmasters to modernize their sites. Adobe Flash is still popular, but most of its functionality can be achieved with largely universal web tools like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

PCs still reign supreme when it comes to browser hits online, but since December 2013 mobile devices have consistently held on to about 20 percent of all worldwide browsing, based on data from metrics firm StatCounter. That's a pretty big chunk of worldwide browsing, and one that will only get bigger over time as mobile devices continue to replace PCs for many of our online tasks.

Google's name-and-shame program for websites based on aging technology is the company's second attempt to improve the search experience on mobile devices. In early June, Google also said it would start warning users if a site was likely to redirect them to the site's homepage by default, as shown at right.

This can be a frustrating experience if, say, you intended to read an article at GreatNewsSite.com/fascinatingStory.html, but you end up redirected to GreatNewsSite.com.

This story, "Google search warns mobile users of potential Flash clash" was originally published by PCWorld.

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