Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flash Forward: Menus In Motion

Last week we looked at how we can learn from the simplicity of the user interfaces of Flash games for mobile devices. This week we get into how flash could provide for a more dynamic way of presenting navigation menus for these mobile devices.

Although there's still some areas where static menus are appropriate, the limitations on what's possible have been pushed back significantly with the advent of web technologies such as Flash. The ability to create fluid, flowing, more interactive menus has effectively brought another dimension to navigating the small screen. However, only recently have we begun to implement the Flash menus and other navigation options as part of the mobile OS and not just inside the mobile browser. Maybe it's because of our naivety about how Flash works, or maybe it's because of our disdain for all things Flash due to the popularity of utilizing the technology to present annoying ads on the web. Whatever the case may be, it has slowed the acceptance of what I believe to be a very useful platform that holds a lot of untapped potential.

There's still way more Flash games than there are Flash applications, and way more Flash applications than cases where Flash is used as the UI for operating systems. I think over a short time this will change, but it has to start with Flash developers and people unafraid of committing to the platform as a viable solution to programming more of a variety of applications. A lot of work has been done to move in this direction lately, but we could always use more. To give a sense of what's possible here's one example of interesting Flash menu:

Nagano Institute of Design Gallery - Uses mouse scroll wheel in a unique way. I'd like to see something like this in mobile devices using similar scroll wheel functions.

I'd also like to see more mobiles like the Samsung Ultra Smart F700 that supposedly will us Flash as the UI.

So, we've seen a bit of what we can achieve with some simple navigational controls using, and a little on how flexible we can make menus for mobile Flash applications and operating system UI. You're probably wondering where we're going with this theme. Well, since I've always been a fan of Nokia's Internet Tablets, we'll be talking about Flash development specifically for those devices in the next post.

Next Up... "Works Both Ways"


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