Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Flash Forward: Works Both Ways

For previous Flash Forward posts see:
[1] - Simple Games
[2] - Menus In Motion

Let's face it, Maemo development has become quite challenging for those that wish to continue support for the 770 while at the same time venturing into new territory with the N800. For those that may not know, the 770 and N800 Internet Tablets look quite similar, but different enough internally to cause many problems with the applications developed for them. And as most tablet users can testify, there are already too many issues with application installation for each device as it is. I believe Flash applications holds the key to avoid the hassle of installation altogether. And because both devices (as well as other mobile devices) support Flash, there's less trouble for developers to offer their applications to the multiple devices and multiple platforms. However, Flash is not without it's limitations.

For many devices, Flash is constrained to the particular web browser of each device. This is not particularly disadvantageous, as many believe that the web browser will become more of the core of future mobile operating systems anyways. But even though the 770 and N800 are "Internet" Tablets, and should be able to take full advantage of all aspects of current web applications, there's still a major reliance on traditional desktop-like applications. Another limiting factor of Flash is that as a newer device comes along, no matter how similar it may be to its predecessor, will be able to power higher versions of the Flash player of which most likely won't be accessible to older devices. The good side to this is that older Flash content will work fine on the newer hardware, but the bad side is that even Flash development will have to eventually shift towards the newer devices.

So, we gain speedy development (or a good way to prototype more advanced development), OS agnosticism, avoidance of troublesome installations, and mostly smaller file sizes (among other advantages). However, until we start to see Flash as less of a "platform within a platform" environment and more of a standalone UI/application engine, or less limited to just web applications, it will be just as difficult to produce the dynamic applications many desire as any other programming environment. I've been looking into some potential uses for this great platform for the Internet Tablets and other mobile devices lately, and to give a bit of an idea what can be done, I present some simple demos for those with either device to check out:

Star Field
Fader Menu

Stay tuned for more cool stuff from as I get better at Flash.

Next Up... "New Way To Play"


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