Verizon update preps Xoom for Flash Player

Flash on Xoom will be beta, expected March 18

Verizon Wireless started pushing a Motorola Xoom software update today that includes support for Flash Player 10.2, which Xoom tablet users will have to download on March 18 via Android Market.

The absence of Flash initially on the Xoom, which went on sale Feb. 24 on Verizon, surprised and disturbed some customers who sought out the tablet partly because it was an alternative to the iPad and iPad 2, which do not support the Flash player.

In a blog posting, Adobe noted that the March 18 Flash Player 10.2 download will actually be a beta release for Android 3.0, known as Honeycomb, for tablets such as Xoom.

The Verizon update also supports clock adjustments in Xoom to take into account daylight savings time, which officially begins in the U.S. on Sunday morning. The adjustments make it possible to correctly display calendar appointments, Verizon said.

Verizon sells the 10.1-in. Xoom for $599.99 with a two-year service agreement, or $800 without a contract. A comparable 9.7-in. iPad 2 with 32GB of storage that runs on Wi-Fi and 3G from either Verizon or AT&T went on sale today from Apple or the carriers for $729.

The iPad 2 and Xoom each have two cameras for videoconferencing, but the Xoom will soon have Flash, the most distinctive difference in the two tablets.

Verizon posted information regarding the update on its Web site, which appeared to be overloaded by users at mid-day Friday and could not be accessed despite repeated attempts by Computerworld.

A PDF of the material on that page obtained by Computerworld said Motorola and Verizon are encouraging Xoom users to download the update.

The actual step-by-step instructions are available at Verizon's site ( download PDF ).

The installation of the 15.4 MB update, called HR166, should take 5 to 15 minutes to finish over-the-air. Users can rely on Verizon servers to initiate the update, and will receive a notification on the Xoom device. Once notified, users can select "install now" which powers off the device, then powers it on to begin the installation. Users have the option of installing later, and will be notified periodically of the update.

A manual installation is possible as well by going to Setting>About tablet>System updates. Users should select "install now" and the device will power off and then on and the install will begin. If the update fails to install, an error screen will appear, and Verizon said to press both the volume-up and power key to restart the tablet, which will power up with the original software and prompts to install the update.

For persistent problems, Verizon's customer care line is 800-922-0204.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile oses in Computerworld's Mobile OSes Topic Center.

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Tags mobileMotorolasoftwareapplicationshardwaretelecommunicationhardware systemsat&tMobile operating systemsMobile Apps and ServicesVerizon WirelessMobile OSes

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