Not your regular Flash Lite. No more Flash 4 syntax. These are totally new versions of Flash for mobile devices that is going to change the way developers work. In fact, what’s more important is they are changing the whole mobile experience for end-users.
Flash Lite 2.0 is a completely new platform for non-PC devices, including mobile phones and consumer electronics. For example, the latest Nokia S60 platform is well supported.
According to this Adobe press release, the number of mobile devices running Flash now reaches 45 million units – a huge jump from twelve months ago. Some of the largest manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Kodak are now shipping Flash-enabled devices. Flash Lite 2.0 devices are expected to be available later this year.
This is the moment to start developing in Flash Lite 2.0 ready for the upcoming market. Of course, there is still a large number of devices with Flash Lite 1.1, such as the iRiver U10 and many Nokia S60 phones. However, developing for Flash Lite 1.1 is really not very pleasant, because it uses the obsolete Flash 4 syntax and is quite limiting compared to this new release.
For those who came to my presentation on Flash Lite and mobile development, I showed a Nokia 6680 smartphone and a O2 XDA IIs Windows Mobile PDA phone. Today’s announcements provide new players for these devices and more, and let developers use ActionScript 2.0 (or 1.0). Many device manufacturers are bundling the new Flash Lite player in upcoming devices. However, until there is a wide distribution of the new Flash Lite 2.0 player, some developers may have to find a balance between ease of development and market penetration. For me, there is no going back to Flash 4 syntax!
The other announcement today is the Flash Player SDK 7. It is targeted for device manufacturers such as Pocket PCs, consumer electronics, system integrators, and browser companies. As the name implies, this is a software development kit based on Flash Player 7; so ActionScript 2.0 is fully supported. Imagine a Linux-based device running a custom browser that supports Flash content, or a game console that has native Flash support (without hacking). These are just some of the scenarios where the SDK can be useful.
What does all this mean for developers? Well, I guess that depends on what kind of developers we’re talking about. For J2ME developers, there is now another choice to rapidly development rich-UI content (that has the added benefit of looking much better than standard Java-based software). For Flash developers, this is another market where their skills can be applied, without learning something totally new.
To get started, get the Flash Lite 2.0 update for Flash Professional 8, and download the free (for a limited time only) Flash Lite 2.0 player for a supported mobile phone.
Don’t forget to check out the datasheet for Flash Lite 2.0 and Flash Player SDK 7 on the Flash Lite page, I’m in it (page 2, top right)! Macromedia quoted what I said from a developer’s perspective.