Exciting times if you're working with Flash Platform technologies, the idea of deploying the same codebase to multiple screens is really taking shape and I for one couldn't be happier.
AIR already allowed us to go cross platform with desktop apps (Windows, Mac and Linux), obviously the Flash Player allows the same across browsers and now with devices you can run your code on Palm webOS, Android devices and even package as apps for iPhone and the new iPad.
Christian Cantrell of the AIR team did an excellent demo on creating an application that automatically lays itself out based on the available screen real estate.
I'm pleasantly surprised about performance they've been able to achieve, that is one area I honestly had my doubts about but they seem to have pulled it off with flying colors (a testament to Flash Player 10.1 mobile optimization).
While we can argue all day long about Apple's decision not to have Flash Player support in their iPhone OS browser or how HTML5 is increasingly becoming an alternative to Flash -- this to me emphasizes the power of the Flash Platform tools and why it has a bright future ahead.
I think many will agree that 2010 is going to be the year of mobile and devices. With Android becoming a serious contender and Apple reportedly coming out with some innovative new hardware its no surprise to me that there's a lot of buzz around the Flash Player and whether or not Adobe will be able to deliver a good experience on mobile platforms.
Enter Flash Player 10.1 - a few years in the making, the engineers are specifically targeting this release for mobile consumption and added critical features like hardware video decoding, GPU graphic acceleration and serious CPU and memory optimizations.
Its fundamentally flawed to compare this Flash Player release with previous versions which were primarily built for use on personal computers with very different constraints in terms of CPU and memory usage. We're finally seeing the first results of the Open Screen Project -- call it a marketing effort if you must -- but partners like Google, HTC, Intel, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson and many others have no incentive to support and invest in a sub par technology.
Will it be perfect? Probably not, but we're getting a hell of a lot closer to a full web experience on the majority of mobile devices.
Enter Flash CS5 - with Apple not playing nice with supporting a Flash Player initiative (or any other plugins for that matter) on the iPhone browser, we'll now get the next best thing. Exporting native applications from Flash CS5 is going to be an easy way to port Flash content (including accelerometer, geolocation and other new APIs introduced for mobile) to iPhone ARM binaries for distribution on the iTunes store.
My prediction is this will be good as a way to port typical Flash content to the iPhone, not necessarily an IDE you would want to use for developing iPhone application where you need fine grained access to the underlying code. Objective-C will still be a good choice for your iPhone development, though Flash CS5 will now open up a very approachable development environment for the iPhone to Windows users.
Moving beyond just mobile phones, the Flash Platform is reaching out and the Flash Player is being used on set top boxes, digital television, on board computers on cars and boats, even user interfaces for refrigerators and microwaves.
What bothers me is how all sense of pragmatism seems to be lost on some bloggers. Wanting the Flash Player to die because of the unfounded believe that its not supportive of an "open web", not SEO friendly or claiming that its been made obsolete by HTML5 (which will incidently take at least half a decade to come even close to being supported on the percentage of web users that the Flash Player can target now). A full decade of Flash content out on the web and 90% of video is not going to go away.
I am not an Adobe employee (though I am involved in their community programs), call me biased but I'm incredibly excited about what is in store for Flash support on mobile and what it promises for user experience. But more importantly I'm not ready to dismiss new technology before getting a chance to play around with it, a view I wish more people would share.
Definitely one of the biggest announcements at todays Adobe MAX keynote was the ability to compile Flash applications to native iPhone ARM binaries. Just to be clear, this doesn't mean Flash Player runs on the iPhone or SWF files get interpreted at runtime.
I'm happy to see Adobe push things forward for mobile and not having Apple restrict innovation. One of the interesting consequences of being able to export to native iPhone code from Flash CS5 is that developers are no longer required to develop on a Mac, opening up a whole new developer ecosystem.
There are more signs Adobe is putting additional pressure on Apple, whether this will be successful or not is another issue. At least it makes it perfectly clear that Adobe is committed to supporting the iPhone as a platform, whatever it takes.
An example of this is the page iPhone users get to see when they try to install Flash Player.
Lots more interesting information coming out, especially around Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0 -- I'll blog more about that as I find out.
Happy holidays everyone!
I thought I'd release a little tool today that I think will be useful to those of you doing iPhone application development. As you might know reviews for your applications in the iTunes App Store are specific to each country and at the moment Apple provides no way for application authors to easily browse reviews of the various international stores.
A few days ago I came across a solution by Erica Sadun on blogs.oreilly.com using a Perl script to scrape the reviews from the XML feed by spoofing the HTTP header. Flash Platform geek as I am, I thought this would be a perfect candidate for an AIR application and thats exactly what I did today.
The "iPhone App Reviews" AIR app was built using Flex and obviously runs on Windows, Mac and Linux -- its about 250 lines of code and uses the SQLite and File APIs for those interested.
How does it work?
You paste in the URL of the application you want to check (right-click on an app in iTunes and choose "copy iTunes Store URL"), the AIR app then figures out the name of the application and adds it to the local SQLite database.
Once you've set up the applications you want to monitor you go to the "Check reviews" tab, select the application and what country you would like to see and click the "refresh" button.
If you want to save out the reviews you can click export and select where to save the text file.
Click "install now" on the AIR badge install below to install the application. Alternatively you can download the AIR file here (not recommended) in which case you need to make sure you have the AIR 1.5 runtime installed.
[airbadge]iPhone App Reviews,http://www.peterelst.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/iphoneappreviews.air,1,http://www.peterelst.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/iphonappreview.png[/airbadge]
Note: This is still an early version of the application and not extensively tested yet. Consider this a workaround until Apple comes out with a better way to check your app reviews in the international iTunes stores.