Flash CS5 to support iPhone Application Development

October 19th, 2009 – 11:27 am
Tagged as: Life

So I was browsing around the Internet and I happen to stumble across a small article by Aditya Bansod from Adobe, regarding the development of iPhone apps in the next release of Flash.

With my colleague asking me to recommend a new smartphone (for quite some time now!), I decided to take a bit of time to look into the next generation of Mobile Application Development. Initially it’s been a bit of a tough time to narrow down what kind of smartphone should be bought: BlackBerry, iPhone, HTC Windows Mobiles, Nokia, Samsung?

There’s quite a lot of choice on the market, but it’s evident that mobile application is booming. And it’s not just that there’s a lot of choice, but nearly every month there’s a new “upgraded” phone with an additional feature, e.g. bigger processor, with keyboard, OS type. But with this new introduction to iPhone app development in Flash CS5 it’s going to be exciting time for Flash developers.

So, I just thought for those considering a new phone, consider whether Flash is going to be compatible on it, because at the end of the day, Flash is one of the key visual enhancements to Web sites in today’s WWW.

Here are some extracts from the article, I found interesting:

We enabled this by using the Low Level Virtual Machine (LLVM) compiler infrastructure. LLVM is a modular, flexible compiler system that is used widely in a variety of projects. The key reason we choose LLVM is its flexibility and applicability to iPhone development. We created a new compiler front end that allowed LLVM to understand ActionScript 3 and used its existing ARM back end to output native ARM assembly code.

Seems like the porting of Adobe apps was used in conjunction with this LLVM. Sounds like it’s quite a complex process, but at the end of the day, if it does what it’s been programmed to do, then us developers are happy developers : ).

You have access to nearly all the AIR 2.0 and Flash Player 10.1 APIs. For example, you can use APIs such as RTMP, Remote Shared Objects, and AMF as well as AIR APIs like SQLite and filesystem access.

Wow, that’s some flexibility to really kick in to your mobile applications! Having used most of those already in some of my general windows/web app development, I already envisage the usefulness for all this support!

Finally, Aditya goes on to explain three main concepts which should be considered when developing an iPhone app:

1. Start by creating your application on the desktop that fits the screen size of the iPhone. The iPhone’s display (like many smartphones) is 320 × 480. When the app is not in full-screen mode, 20 pixels are taken up by the status bar, so consider that when building your application.

2. Second, your finger is your pointing device. You can use mouse events (and touch events) to track the user’s intent, but remember that the finger is an inaccurate pointing device. Sometimes a finger goes down on the screen but moves up elsewhere. Certain behaviors that you may often employ in desktop application development will not necessarily apply to the iPhone.

3. The third and most important consideration when building your application is performance. Performance, performance, performance! The iPhone is most decidedly not a desktop computer. It has very powerful and sophisticated hardware, but there is a wide spectrum of capabilities between the different generations of device, the amount of memory available, and the amount of processing power your application has at its disposal.

Haha, I’m so glad he mentioned point number three! The number of times I struggled with that! That was and still is, one of the most difficult to consider. But reading on, I also found one final point which seemed relevant to any Mobile app dev:

If you have any experience developing applications with Adobe Flash Lite or other mobile platforms, you can use many of the same tricks and techniques—such as caching bitmaps, limiting the display list depth, and so on.

Nice to know!

Overall, I found that article a very useful insight to consider when buying a new phone. In summary, Windows Mobile Devices, and now the new Android device are the best options should you want Flash on your phone!

In my opinion, Flash mobile browsing is probably going to be the next generation for an everyday user on their iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android device (maybe BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung (although their OS’s are limited compared the the other three)).

In any case, whether you’re on the underground in London browsing the latest fashion in a Flash gallery or purchasing items on eBay which have video previews on the plane (although phones should really be turned off!) or even in India on an elephant lost in the middle of no-where (hopefully with a signal!) trying to navigate your way round a Flash map interface, Flash is will be essential requirement to mobile technology development.

Full article: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/logged_in/abansod_iphone.html

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