Mobile World Congress 2010: Roundup

I arrived back from this years Mobile World Congress far more exhausting than normal, hence the complete lack of blogging during the event; apologies for that.  So here I will aim to roundup the various announcements and hopefully add to the huge amount of blogging and articles written during the event.

In general this years event had a more positive mood with attendees and exhibitors all looking to the future of mobile and devices.  New this year was the inclusion of Tablet and Netbook devices in the show many of which use the same hardware as high end smartphones.  Our goal is to enable the Flash Platform to extend to these devices too, and so it should be no surprise that we had many partners previewing Flash experiences on their hardware, more on that later.

Open Screen Project Update – “Connecting Developers with Consumers”

At the conference we announced that we now have some 70 partners, with new additions like Burda Group, RTL, Stern, Addicting Games and EPIX on the content partner side.  New technology partners include Freescale, MIPS, Vizio, Symbian, Imagination Technologies and Sonic.  In terms of scale we have created one of the largest initiatives in the mobile ecosystem to build a foundation for the distribution of the Flash Platform across devices.  Of course for the community much of this will appear like marketing, but rest assured that there are many hundreds of engineers working globally to bring Flash to a huge array of platforms.

As we begin to wrap up the Flash Player integration efforts our focus has widened to include enablement for web content.  In total we’re working with over 140 content provider partners, owners of the largest and most popular sites that use Flash today.  At MWC 2010 we showed applications and websites optimized for mobile viewing from the following:

Animation – Angry Alien Productions

Branded – AOL Mobile, BBC iPlayer, ESPN, Sony Pictures, TBS, TNT, Warner Brothers

Gaming – Addicting Games, Armor Games, Kongregate, Miniclip.com, Nick.com, South Park Studios

News – BBC News, The New York Times Reader App, The Wall Street Journal Online

Video – AlloCiné, Amazon.com, AOL Moviefone, Canoe, Dailymotion, Disney, Epix, GMX, IGN, Kid Rock (Atlantic Records), Lavanguardia, National Geographic, Mobile YouTube, Studio1290 Mobile, STV Player Mobile, Ustream, Vimeo, Yahoo! Movies

As you can see the list is HUGE and this represents a small part of the overall efforts to bring the full web to devices using Flash Player.  For the Open Screen Project to be truly successful we need our content providers and developers to play their part, as you can see, this effort is very much underway.

Of particular note we also joined the LiMo Foundation to deliver the Flash Platform on their Linux based devices.  It’s an exciting announcement because it demonstrates that the Open Screen Project and other industry initiatives are aligned with a goal to the delivery of consistent and open platforms for developers and consumers.

Flash Player 10.1

On our stand at the Mobile World Congress we showed a beta version of Flash Player running on the Motorola Droid, Palm Pre and the Google Nexus One.  The applications above were running incredibly well and attendees were very impressed with the performance and fluidity of the experience, Flash was built for the web and on devices it just makes sense.  The most important addition to the mobile experience was the ability to playback Flash content in full screen mode, enabled by these powerful webkit browsers.

Of course the fun part for attendees was in visiting their own sites to understand the sheer power of the new player.  In all, the thousands of attendees that visited our stand were extremely excited about being able to browse more of the web on their devices.  For many the call to action was “How can I get started?”, well Thibaut has been crafting a great set of resources with our engineering teams here.  The first step however is to create a plan of action, begin to plan a suitable user experience for mobile devices; and in particular those based on touch.

With Flash Player 10.1 we have worked to enable the same web content to run using less memory, yet with higher performance.  The results are really incredible and should see a significant improvement, not only for the mobile devices but also for desktop computers and application running on Adobe AIR 2.0.  Remember, we can only do so much and as a Flash Developer you have a role to play in ensuring that your content works well on these new devices.

For fun, my colleague Michael Chaize has created his own tour of the web on the Nexus One, he even pushes out all the stops by visiting a site based on Papervision!

In terms of availability we have required some significant patches to Android and to the Web OS to support the installation of the Flash Player over-the-air.  We expect these new updates to become available soon to end users, at which time the Flash Player will become available either via their respective Application Stores, within the software updates or both.  In either case the installation of the Flash Player will be seamless and ongoing we expect to see significant traction as we move forward.

Adobe AIR on devices

One of the big pieces of news at Mobile World Congress was the announcement of Adobe AIR on Android, and the tie-in with our Adobe Packager for the iPhone.  At MAX 2009 we demonstrated the creation of iPhone applications using the upcoming Flash Professional CS5, and the twist is that these applications are based on AIR 2.0.  To demonstrate the possibilities we showed some of the same applications created in Flash Professional CS5 that are available on the AppStore today, running on Android devices using Adobe AIR.  The workflow couldn’t be simpler, it’s simply a repackaging effort with a little UX tweaking for basic layout and hardware capabilities.

Here is a nice video from Kevin Hoyt showing off Adobe AIR for Android:

Write One Run Everywhere? – In many ways the answer is yes, given a few measured choices.  We have made it fantastically simple to reach across devices and platforms with Flash and AIR, and so the same code can now run on a huge array of phones, desktop computers and consumer electronics.  Using the same assets and principle it will be extremely simple to tweak applications for varying screen sizes, input methods and user experiences.

So now our “marketecture” diagram for Applications looks like this (2010 is on the right):

Note that I’ve called out iPhone OS separately, this is because you will be required to use Actionscript 3 to target the iPhone. Once you package an application it will not be possible to process additional SWF files containing actionscript, such as those stored on the web, due to Apple’s restrictions around interpreted code.

Android, by comparison, is totally open and AIR runs beautifully on the platform; and dare I say a little faster on the Moto Droid, a device with iPhone 3Gs hardware.

iPhone stats from the Flash Player download center

A little while ago I blogged about our new iPhone page at the Flash Player download center, the same site where hundreds of millions of users download and upgrade Flash every year.

We were amazed by the numbers of hits received from iPhone OS devices, from users seeking the Flash Player to play back rich content from their favourite sites.  Users that, before we created the special page, had no idea that Apple do not want them viewing the Internet as they see it today.

It has now been reported that over 7 million attempts were made by users to download the player by December 2009, that’s up from 3 million attempts in June 2009.

Incredible numbers I think you’ll agree!

iPad – full Internet my ASS

Disclaimer: I am an Adobe employee and these views are my own.

Yesterday we saw the launch of the iPad from Apple, and we were taken on the whirlwind of marketing showmanship.  The iPad is undoubtedly a revolutionary product, and just like the iPhone OS, Apple are clearly set on a path to close down the web and ultimately markets for books and magazines, just as they did with music.  Well maybe this is a good thing for sales and the Apple stock price, but the Internet is meant to be more for those who use it.  Fundamentally it’s an information, education and entertainment tool founded on open innovation.  How can a liberal company try and lock it down??

Why would a student seriously want to go to the library?  That’s so 1980!

The keynote by Steve Jobs yesterday was, as always, a masterpiece of marketing and you will have undoubtedly seen the “plug-in missing” boxes throughout the browsing demo.  Apple told us that “a new device must be better at some things”, defining the iPad as “the best browsing experience of any device”; he even included laptops in that definition.

Is that an ignorant statement?  Obviously not, Steve is a very smart guy so I think he’s in the business of redefining what the web is.  Maybe he’ll brand it the iNet.



The interesting part of this keynote was in their pitch, you see Apple is staffed with smart people, so everything about the pitch was deliberate.  When browsing the web at the New York Times, Time and National Geographic websites Steve paused momentarily to show that Flash was missing.  He’s a perfectionist, so why do you think he would do that?

Well I believe that Apple were declaring that the web does not need or want Flash, that includes me with my Macbook Pro, 2 iPhones and an iPod Touch.  For consumers it is extremely misleading to talk about a web without Flash, in fact any plugin or common technology.  How do I know that? Well millions of iPhone users are visiting our Flash Player download page in the vein hope that they’ll be able to watch Hulu, iPlayer, 4OD and any number of sites.  They don’t necessarily know what Flash is, but ~700million of them know that they could visit these pages and engage with the content on their desktop computer.

Is it fundamentally wrong to describe the modern web as “complete”, without the plugins that have existed for almost as long as it has?  Plugins that many see as the leaders of, and a required element of, web innovation?

At Adobe we believe in an open web, one where plugins like Flash and PDF Reader, Unity3D, Gears and even Silverlight can all co-exist and compete on fair terms.  We work extremely hard to bring Flash to all devices, and lately of course we have invested a huge effort in bringing the Flash Platform to mobile devices too.  Today we’re working with 19 of the top 20 manufacturers of mobile phones within the Open Screen Project; but not Apple, and certainly not for the want of trying.

To make matters worse, the problems didn’t end with Flash being absent on the iPad.  Apple also launched the iBookStore, a separate and new store for Books and I presume magazines or articles in time.  In essence this is a great step forward for many, and Apple has elected to the use the EPub format which is fully supported in InDesign CS4.

So what gives?  It’s all in the detail, the DRM, user locked, device locked detail.  Forget sharing your books and movies, forget reading your books on your laptop sometimes or transferring them onto any other device.

In sum, I am hugely disappointed in Apple’s iPad and I feel that the vast majority of consumers will reject it; as long as Apple come clean about its shortcomings first.

BlocketPC – DeviceDays at Mobile World Congress 2010

The Mobile World Congress is a massive event with some 50,000 attendees from around the world.  Each year there are around 50 Adobe employees from across the organization in attendance, including all the key members of the platform team at Adobe.

This year we’ve managed to delay a few flights and tweak some schedules to create a fantastic line up for the Spanish Mobile and Devices User Group event “DeviceDays”.  Raul, Marcos and myself will be joined by Richard Galvan, Product Manager for Flash Professional, Enrique Duvos who leads Evangelism in EMEA.

I’m also really excited to tell you that some of our Open Screen Project partners, and advertising aggregation providers GreyStripe will attend as guests.  You’ll get a chance to speak with them directly, and additionally GreyStripe will present on ad-funded applications.. really exciting!

This day long event will be  ~70% in Spanish, so a great improvement from last year :-)

Timing/location:

  • Torre Mapfre – Avinguda Litoral, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
  • 09.30am – 5.00pm 19th February
  • Space for 100 attendees

Note: Passing security takes time, arrive 15-30 mins early.

Schedule:

  • 09.30am Welcome intro from Marcos and Raul
  • 10.00am Overview of Adobe’s announcements at Mobile World Congress
  • 10.30am BREAK
  • 11.30am Open Screen Project new and Fund update, demos of funded applications
  • 12.30am Contextual Applications – best practices, optimizations and inspirational demos
  • 14.00pm LUNCH
  • 15.00pm Testing Flash based applications with Device Central CS5
  • 15.30pm Creating iPhone applications with Flash Professional CS5
  • 16.00pm BREAK
  • 16.15pm Creating ad-supported iPhone Applications with GreyStripe
  • 16.45pm Closing remarks from Marcos and Raul

The event website is here, so start registering.

Adobe @ Mobile World Congress 2010: Free Tickets ;-)

“Any Device” , that’s our tag line for this years Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  Given the huge investments with our Open Screen Project partners in 2009/2010, you can imagine that this will be our most important event in the mobile calendar.

The Mobile World Congress is a chance for OEMs, Chipset Vendors, Carriers, Content Providers and Developers to meet up and decide the future of our ecosystem.  For the past two years that I’ve attended we have gone from 400million devices with Flash, to over 1.2Billion and this year will see a massive step change in our strategy with the launch of Flash Player 10.1.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan will be onsite to talk with our partners, and to discuss key challenges in the mobile and devices ecosystem and how we’re working to solve these issues with our Open Screen Project partnerships.

We’ll be showing Flash Player 10.1 experiences optimized for various devices platforms like Android, Palm and Windows Mobile.  Our booth will be packed with demos of multi-screen contextual experiences, games running across platforms and we’ll be showing off Device Central CS5 too.

With this being such a big event for us, we thought it would be nice for Flash developers to share this event with us.  So if you want to come along on us, and see the whole event for free then send us an email :-)

mwcstaff@adobe.com

For more information and updates then check out our micro-site for the event.

CES 2010: Light Blue Optics launch “Light Touch”

CES 2010 in Las Vegas saw a very interesting device launch from UK based Light Blue Optics.  The great news is that they’ve received really positive press and comments from users that are eager to get their hands on the Light Touch.

So what is it?  Effectively it’s a projector for rich media, but it’s laser based which gives it the ability to project onto different surfaces while maintaining a sharp focus and bright colours.  LBO used the Flash Platform to provide a rich user interface engine for applications, games, photos and even H.264 video playback.  The device is also multi-touch enabled using infra-red, but employs an invisible grid projection onto the surface, which enables much more accurate and speedy response times.

As a user you can envisage a huge array of different use cases, maybe your calendar projected onto your desk, or video playing on your bedroom wall.  We saw a huge array of 3D TVs, ever larger, thinner and brighter televisions this year at CES.  Could the future require no screen at all?

Just think of the options for this kind of device in the auto-industry, gaming and entertainment.  The great news is that the device spec’s make it capable of running Flash Player 10.1 in the future, reaping the benefits of our consistent Open Screen Project runtime for all platforms.

Specs:

  • Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 on WinCE 5
  • ARM11 CPU @ 600Mhz
  • 10-inch touchscreen with WVGA resolution
  • Laser based pico projection
  • Infrared multi-touch detection
  • WiFi and Bluetooth radios
  • 2GB of on-board storage (+ microSD)

Check it out in action:

Palm Pre – Progress Update

The last time we had a Palm update we saw the Flash Player running in multiple cards (application instances) on Web OS.  We had made great progress with the pause and resume functionality, to fit in with the unique nature of WebOs multi-tasking capabilities.

At CES 2010 Palm talked publicly about the availability of the Flash Player 10.1 for their devices.  The intention is to ship it as part of an OS update, and also in their App Store so that users can install the player as required (if they already have the OS update for example).  So you can start to see the promise of the Open Screen Project taking shape, Flash Player 10.1 updates over-the-air for all Palm users.  Additionally Palm indicated that they are going to ship “soon”.

At MAX we still had some work to do with Palm to tidy up certain features, hardware acceleration for video and providing a full screen experience for games and video playback.

In this update video Adrian shows the progress made in the last few months around gaming site optimization.

Enjoy!

Flash Platform Extends to the iPhone Platform

So you heard it right, we have brought the Flash Platform to the iPhone OS for applications.  In fact some of the applications are already on the Apple AppStore for you to download

We thought it was fun to put them up in secret and working with a very very small set of developers, and our engineering teams I think we’ve really proven that Flash can run effectively on the iPhone without changes.

The applications are:

  • Just Letters
  • Finger Paint
  • Red Hood
  • Chroma Circuit
  • FickleBlox
  • That Roach Game
  • Trading Stuff
  • South Park Avatar Creator

Enabling the Flash Platform to run on the iPhone has been a really tough task, and one that results in some limitations.  Though you have told us that this is a top priority for your mobile projects, and so we’ve worked for over a year to build this solution.

For developers the new tooling will be made available with the Flash Professional tool, which will also be in pre-release later this year. So today you can begin your work on mobile devices targeting Flash Player 10, or Adobe AIR 2.0 Apis in time.

One caveat of this Ahead of Time compilation method is that we can only use AS3 code.  AOT compilation means that we have no interpreter on the device, as per Apple’s restriction.  Without the interpreter you won’t be able to load SWFs unless they were packaged with your application, boo Apple :-)

This new tool set and a subset of apis from Adobe AIR will have all manner of features enabled, along with the hardware acceleration, battery, memory and rendering performance increases that we have worked on in Flash Player 10.1.

These are:
• Photo selection from file system
• Contact selection from the address book
• Camera
• Cut/copy/paste
• Accessory support
• In app purchase support
• Peer to peer
• Maps
• iPod library access
• Compass
• Push notifications
• Audio recording
• Video recording
• Parental controls

Of course because of the huge amount of work involved, and lack of public API access from Apple we have to drop a few features too.

• Embedded HTML content
• RTMPE (this was our call)
• H.264 Video (you can use URLRequest)
• Dynamically loading SWFs (containing AS3 code)
• PixelBender

So what about Flex?  Well here at Adobe MAX we’ll have a session specifically around Adobe Flex Mobile Framework, codename “Slider”.  We expect that in time we’ll enable this version of the framework to run effectively on the iPhone.  You’ll be using the same tools, Apis and core framework elements.

Although there would be nothing technically stopping you from using Flex, you would suffer huge performance penalties, and have to re-write the components for mobile and device interactions.

Go and get started then today!

Flash Player 10.1 – Hardware Acceleration Ahoy!

Some key announcements around our work with Qualcomm and NVIDIA with Flash Player 10.1, the version number for our new desktop and mobile runtime.  Some would argue (and I’m sure some did) that if .1 means only incremental changes then we should have called it Flash 11!  The work that has gone into this runtime, we have doubled the number of supported platforms including Symbian, Android, Palm, Windows Mobile, Linux, Windows and Mac OS.

It’s a huge investment made possible by the incredible talent that is Adobe’s Flash Engineering team.  Let’s see the Silverlight team rock something like that out!

One of the biggest challenges has been performance for constrained devices.  GPU acceleration and optimizations by ARM, Intel and our OEM partners have enabled us to create a better player, one that uses less RAM, less battery and renders faster on constrained devices.

Don’t you just love the Open Screen Project??

A big round of applause for our engineering teams!

RIM joins the Open Screen Project

At Adobe MAX 2009 RIM has become the 19th of the top 20 OEMs to begin work on integrating the Flash Player on their mobile platform.  This is a landmark collaboration announcement in our drive to bring the full Internet to mobile phones and devices.

Over the past few years we have seen RIM devices expand out of the business user category to become a consumer platform.  Many of my friends now use the Curve for Facebook, messaging and surfing the web and they really love their phones.

That’s my guage on success:

  1. Do my friends own them?
  2. Does my mum know what a Blackberry is?

For developers the Blackberry platform currently provides a Java API and framework for easy application development.  There’s no arguing that the Java runtime has enabled some great applications, and as the App World expands we’ve seen some nice content start to come in.

Our OEM engagements seem much more rounded with RIM joining, a more complete story if you will.