Android Devices Mobile & Devices News Technology

Google Chrome & Mobile

Since reading the Google Chrome comic, the possibility of running a new class of (web) applications in this new browser is exciting, especially considering that it’d most likely be part of Android in the future. With this new browser from Google, it’s not only re-igniting the browser war (mostly with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer), but also a step towards OS-independent applications that can run either online or offline. It’s another strike at Microsoft’s OS market share (something that Adobe has been achieving with the Flash Platform, except this time, Google is making it with a larger footprint). Chrome is in effect an operating system in its own sandboxed world. Google Chrome

Here are some of the more interesting features of Chrome:

  • uses the open source WebKit – the browser engine used by Safari (Mac OS, iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows), Adobe AIR (Windows, Mac, Linux), S60 (e.g. Nokia browser) and many more
  • in return Google Chrome is also open source
  • a new JavaScript Virtual Machine (V8) that compiles JavaScript to native machine code when interpreted, with the goal to improve JavaScript speed for complex applications
  • separate process and sandbox for each tab
  • Google Gears is built-in (GeoLocation API would be especially useful for mobile devices)

One logical direction for Chrome is to have it run on devices. With Android devices coming out soon, it’d be interesting to see where and how new applications will be deployed and developed if Chrome takes off and becomes a relevant platform.

Download Google Chrome Beta (for Windows).

Events Flash News

Flash on the Beach

Flash on the Beach

Keith Peters leaked the speaker list of Flash on the Beach, to be held from November 4-7 in Brighton, UK. According to the list, I’m one of the confirmed speakers.

Here’s the list so far:

Andries Odendaal
Aral Balkan
Branden Hall
Brendan Dawes
Carlo Blatz
Carlos Ulloa
Carole Guevin
Chris Allen
Chris Orwig
Craig Swann
Dave Williamson
Dave Yang
Erik Natzke
GMUNK (Bradley Grosh)
Grant Skinner
Hillman Curtis
Hoss Gifford
Jim Coudal
Joey Lott
John Grden
Joshua Davis
Keith Peters
Kristin Henry
Lisa Larson
Marcos Weskamp
Mario Klingemann
Michael Ninness
Mike Jones
Neville Brody
Niqui Merret
Renee Constantini
Rich Shupe
Richard Leggett
Rob Chiu
Robert Hodgin
Robert Reinhardt
Seb Lee-Delisle
Tink (Stephen Downs)

Confirm or deny? (Sounds like Apple’s Vista ad…)

[ May 7th update: The Flash on the Beach 2007 site is now live. And I can confirm that I’ll be speaking there this November. Looking forward to it! ]

Events Flash Flash Lite News Others

FITC, IdN and newspaper interview

To those who are attending this year’s FITC festival, take a look at the IdN booth and the Two Faced exhibition. I wrote some articles for IdN many years ago (in 1993, when it was called MdN – Macintosh Designers Network), and interviewed the President & CEO of Macromedia (Bud Colligan) back then. IdN is very popular in Australia, U.S., Europe and Asia. It’s about time Canada finds out more about this designer magazine and their other publications.

For those who read (traditional) Chinese, here is the Sing Tao newspaper interview of me (楊光) at FITC (click to view full size at Flickr). They asked about my experience, work, this year’s presentation and the festival. I was a bit surprised they used almost 1/3 of the page on this article.

Newspaper article of me at FITC

My presentation is on tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:45pm. It’s on Flash Lite and mobile development. I invited Dongyub Lee from Seoul to join me to talk about some of his projects on device UI and games development.

Thanks to Shawn Pucknell and the FITC team for another great festival.

Flash Lite Mobile & Devices News

Just arrived in Seoul

What? Again? Some of my friends are probably jealous that I’ve gone to Korea again since last November. The plane arrived at 2:40 am, my friend Dongyub picked me up and we went for latte at a 24-hour cafe.

Dongyub told me there’s good news and bad news. I wasn’t sure which to hear first. We were supposed to have a 3-day meeting with Adobe Korea and a phone company on Flash Lite UI design & development, but someone/something got postponed and I’m not sure if the meeting/workshop will go ahead as planned. Interesting news after 14-hour flight.

If that is the bad news, the good news is I probably have to return again!

Random notes:

  • Nice to see 3G working on my Nokia N73 with HSDPA
  • WiBro is interesting
  • iRiver Clix2 is fast
Mobile & Devices News

Wireless number portability

Today marks the first time mobile phone numbers are portable in Canada. However, this is not implemented in all of Canada today. According to the Canadian government’s CRTC website:

By March 14, 2007 Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless and the mobility division of TELUS Communications Inc. will be required to provide WNP to their customers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Québec. This means that customers in any of these provinces will be able to switch to any service provider in that province (wireline or wireless) and keep their phone number.

Throughout Canada, all wireless carriers will, by the same date, be required to release a phone number to another carrier (port-out customers) and by no later than September 12, 2007, to accept a phone number from another carrier (port-in customers).

It’s about time. I know some people are holding off switching wireless carriers until this day. This is likely to open up more competition among carriers – good for consumers.

Devices Events Flash Lite Mobile & Devices News

FITC 2007 guest speaker + discount code

I’m glad to announce that I’ve invited Dongyub Lee from Seoul as a guest speaker at my FITC presentation on Flash Lite and Mobile Development.

Dongyub is the CEO of DnL Productions, with offices in Seoul and Toronto. He created the Flash Lite User Interface for the iRiver U10 and Viliv P1. We’ll be talking about the state of Flash Lite development, new devices and technologies, development process and looking at some code.

Here is the description of our presentation:

One reason people come to events such as FITC is to be inspired. Whether it is the design, ideas or code. The number of devices running Flash Lite is at a record high. It is a great time to get into mobile and Flash Lite development.

In this session, we’ll look at mobile platforms, devices, tools, data access, trends and cool new technologies that may spark new ideas for your own development. We’ll de-construct a Flash Lite 2 application and see how the UI, navigation, event handling and external data access are implemented for a mobile device.

To register at 10% off the regular price, use this discount code: QW888798.

Devices Mobile & Devices News

Apple iPhone

[Note: This post was originally published as “private” the day after the iPhone was announced at MacWorld. After writing it, I read many similar reactions from other sites. Nevertheless, it’s now open for the public. Please note that these are speculations based on initial Apple annoucement information (they are likely to change by the time the iPhone is launched).]

With all the fanfare and excitement over the Apple iPhone, I thought I’d post my thoughts on this first-generation phone from Apple Inc.

Even though I was excited to follow the launch of the iPhone, and seeing how the new UI works, I quickly felt that it isn’t as revolutionary as Steve Jobs claims. The iPhone as it is introduced lacks some important features, especially for a phone to be released in the middle of 2007 (and later outside of the U.S.). It is easier to criticize than create, and I’m sure Apple has put in a lot of R&D into the iPhone, but from a consumer perspective, the current information on the iPhone doesn’t interest me to the point of buying one right away (if they had it on sale).

Here is the list of what I think are lacking:

  • No 3G network access. I was hoping that the iPhone had HSDPA. 3G is almost a must for “smart” phones launched in 2007, especially at the iPhone price range (costs of US$499 and $599 require 2-year contract with Cingular). Steve Jobs did mention during his keynote that future iPhones will have 3G though.
  • No GPS. Many Pocket PCs and phones came out last year already had built-in GPS. Google Maps or applications using the Google Maps API are already available on many other devices with GPS access.
  • The iPhone is locked to Cingular. The whole world is moving to unlocked GSM phones. This move keeps many potential buyers away. First company to offer unlocking service for the iPhone will make a fortune.
  • According to David Pogue’s FAQ, the iPhone does not sync with Outlook. There goes a large potential market.
  • According to the same FAQ, Adobe Flash is not available.
  • Although the iPhone runs OSX (most likely a scaled down customized version), it is a closed system tightly controlled by Apple. They don’t want any third-party application to run on it. The rest of the mobile world is moving towards open systems. Third-party developers can write and sell applications for different phones, and they don’t bring down a wireless network.
  • Internal battery similar to iPods that is not designed to be user-replaceable. With that gorgeous screen, the battery life suffers. 5 hours on specs usually mean 3+ hours of actual / extended use. What’s the use of a phone without power after 3+ hours, or at the very best, 5 hours? Why can’t users buy extra batteries and swap them?
  • No memory slot. At 480×320 (landscape mode), how many feature length videos can be stored on 4GB or 8GB? Of course, nobody watches movies on phones right? What about music and photos? Or storing images from a digital camera to the iPhone while on the road?
  • Basic 2 megapixel camera with no flash or auto-focus, compared to 5+ megapixel camera phones with auto-focus and dedicated shutter button. Can you imagine taking pictures by pressing the screen?
  • No mention of video capture. Almost all camera phones can be used to capture video, with some models built specifically for that purpose. I’d imagine this would be a standard feature.
  • No face-to-face video call (well, without 3G it’s not going to be very useful). Many Nokia phones have front and back cameras – one for video call, the other for taking pictures or video recording.
  • No mention of VoIP phone software. Probably have something to do with Cingular. Wireless providers don’t like people talk for free. With Wi-Fi, it’d be a shame if Apple doesn’t offer any VoIP solution.
  • Size of the iPhone: The reason I don’t carry my Pocket PC phone (O2 XDA IIs) around much is because it’s bigger and heavier than the Nokia N73 (which fits inside any pocket easily). Although the iPhone is slim, the width and height make it rather bulky to fit inside a pocket comfortably.
  • Better get a screen protector, I can see the screen scratched easily from day one.
  • No mention of which CPU or if there is a dedicated 3D graphics chip. By judging from the live demos, the iPhone performance seems decent though.

Here is an article titled “In Japan, barely a ripple – Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone is ‘business as usual’ in a country where mobile features already are so advanced.

To me, the iPhone is interesting because it brings multi-touch technology to a mass market device. I don’t know if Apple’s 200+ iPhone patents include multi-touch, one thing for sure is that others have been doing it for sometime.

Keeping the iPhone a closed system makes it rather dull. Keeping it locked to specific wireless provider(s) is rather unfortunate.

Devices Flash Lite Mobile & Devices News

Flash Lite 2.1 now available for multiple platforms

Adobe released Flash Lite 2.1 (now free to download) for the following mobile platforms a few days ago:

Nokia Symbian S60 v3.0

Nokia Symbian S60 v2.0 FP2

Nokia Symbian S60 v2.0 FP3

Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0

Did I mention these are free and do not require an IMEI number locked to the phone?

Old news but worth mentioning: Flash Lite 2.1 was released for BREW some time ago. Also, Flash Player 7 for Pocket PC is still available.

For developers: Make sure you download the Flash Lite 2.1 updater for Flash Professional 8, and get all new device profiles.

More info can be found at the Adobe Mobile & Devices Developer Center.

Devices Flash Lite Mobile & Devices News

Flash Lite article on Globe and Mail

Globe and Mail

Recently I was interviewed by Canadian national newspaper Globe and Mail writer Denise Deveau on developing for mobile devices in Flash Lite, the article talks about the current status of mobile development, and why developers are moving to Flash Lite.

The article is a good read for the general public (it’s under the Business : Innovation section). Some key points to take away:

  • Flash Lite is likely to change the user experience on mobile devices, like it did to the webspace.
  • Flash Lite can change the look and feel of mobile user-interface, applications and games, making them more fun and easer to use.
  • It is a great channel to apply one’s creative spirit.
  • Unlike countries such as Japan where Flash on mobile is extremely common, it may take 18 to 24 months for Flash to be adopted significantly on mobile phones in North America.
  • Many developers are betting on Flash for mobile devices

As I was away on a trip in Asia (after speaking at the Adobe MAX conference in Seoul on mobile development), the interview was done over several email at around 1 am local time, and ended abruptly when I left the computer and went to sleep. Hope what I said makes sense!

Devices Events Flash Lite Mobile & Devices News

Adobe MAX Seoul

Today is the first day of the Adobe MAX conference in Seoul. It’s great to talk to local mobile developers, and checking out some local mobile devices.

For example, Samsung has a Windows Mobile slider phone, which has a touch screen and a tiny antenna that receives digital satellite TV. The video quality is really good as it is all digital signal. It runs on the standard Windows Mobile system, so Flash Lite 2.1 is also available. I was told it is free to watch TV on the mobile phone.

Samsung phone with satellite TV

It’s great to be back in Asia. Getting to hang out with the usual crowd and meeting new people are always good reasons for going to these conferences. I think there are over 1000 attendees, coming for the two-day event.

My presentation on “Connecting to External Data Services” (for Flash Lite) is on tomorrow. There’s a speaker dinner tonight, and I’m looking forward to the traditional Korea dinner.

Last night, a couple of speakers went out for a late dinner at a nearby Japanese restaurant. The food was really good!

Geoff Lillemon, Jared Tarbell, Rob Chiu, Craig Swann, Mario Klingemann

Erik Natzke, Tobey, Geoff Lillemon, Jared Tarbell