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Flash Mobile: Developing Android and iOS Applications (Visualizing the Web)


Change: It’s what we expect from technology, from the PC to the web, through to HD TV. But nothing has been as disruptive as the change the iPhone and Android phones have brought. For the first time the power of a computer will fit in your hand, you are always connected to the Internet, and these devices are loaded with hardware such as video cameras, microphones, GPS chips, and accelerometers.

As a designer, the last few years have been both exciting and frustrating. Adapting to new technologies has come at a significant cost. For iOS development you need a Mac and a solid understanding of Objective-C; Android requires learning Java; and let’s not even get started with this mobile web thing.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to the AT&T store to pick up an iPhone. Adobe had this teen-crazy idea: let’s put Flash in your pocket. Unfortunately Apple was not going to have anything to do with it. No Flash on the iPhone for you! So, undaunted, Adobe did an end-around on Apple. If you could not play a Flash movie on the iPhone, why not create an app (containing a modified version of AIR) and stick the Flash content in that way?

Crazy idea? Yes. Did it work? You betcha!

The problem was Steve Jobs. He did not like this idea at all. In what has now become a famous open letter, Steve Jobs publicly decried Flash as a “yesteryear” technology and banished Flash apps from the iTunes App Store.

Undaunted by Mr. Jobs’ comments, Adobe changed direction and brought Adobe Integrated Runtime to the Android, BlackBerry, and PalmOS operating systems. What must mean a lot of gnashing teeth over at Apple, Flash content performs very well on mobile devices. It is not slow, as Apple was making the world believe. In fact, it is a designer’s dream. Now you can take the content you develop for the web and desktops and port it to an ever-increasing number of mobile devices. No need to learn Java, Objective-C, or any other language. You can just leverage your knowledge of Flash and ActionScript.

Android is fast catching up with Apple’s early lead. In addition, other technologies such as Windows Phone 7 are proving to be compelling alternatives to iOS. The thumbscrews are being tightened on Apple.

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