If you’ve been a member of the Adobe/Macromedia community you’ve heard a lot about Flash on mobile devices over the years. After seeing what’s coming, I think this is what you’ve been waiting for. We talked a bit about Flash Player 10.1 for mobile devices at MAX, and having played with a working version on the Nexus One, I think it’s going to be great for people that want to consume bits of Flash content here and there, especially games and video. But what we haven’t talked much about is AIR for mobile devices.
AIR has been a big success on the desktop partly because being able to create an application with native hooks and having it run cross-platform is a big benefit to developers and to end-users who jump around different operating systems. But the mobile landscape is an even bigger minefield. Apple’s phone gets all of the attention, but you’ve got Android out there, RIM’s Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows 7, and others. If you come up with a great idea for an application, you have to write it for all of those platforms. Or watch as someone takes your idea and copies it on one of those platforms after you invest all of your time building it for a single platform. AIR for mobile is going to let you use the language and the tools you know to create applications across all of those mobile devices much more easily. We’re starting with AIR mobile for Android and Blackberry and Kevin Hoyt has a demo video up that shows it in action on the Motorola Droid. And with AIR for mobile you’ll get access to multi-touch, accelerometer, GPS, creating your own gestures, screen orientation, and other device-specific APIs.
Introducing the Mobile RIA
One of the things that’s going to become very important for developers is creating content specifically for the small screen. Tools like Flash CS5 are going to make it very easy to re-use assets and workflow to create both applications and in-browser mobile Flash content. With AIR for mobile you can take the same application and run it on Android, compile it as an application for the iPhone, or deploy it on Mac, Windows, and Linux on the desktop. Depending on the device, you may want to make some small modifications, but you’ll be able to reuse your assets and a bulk of the code to quickly create cross-platform mobile applications with AIR mobile.
Because of the screen size and the very different specifications of each device, it’s going to be critical to customize content as much for a single device as possible and make sure you’re following best practices. There is a good article on creating mobile RIAs over on the Developer Center and Thibault Imbert has put together a great beta paper on optimizing mobile content for mobile devices.
Flash Platform Tools and Workflow
There is always a lot of talk about the future of Flash and which devices it’s on. But the ecosystem of Flash has gone way beyond an animation engine that’s limited to the web browser. No matter what you’re doing, the tools and workflow of the Flash Platform are going to give you the ability to deploy the most creative applications across the most used devices. Some of those applications will be mobile RIAs in the browser and some will be AIR mobile applications that take advantage of native APIs across mobile operating systems. For developers it really is one web, any device, and any kind of application. So get ready to go nuts and show every other developer how mobile applications are supposed to look.