Screens 2011 = New FITC Mobile Conference

For those who follow this mobile development space, the FITC Mobile conference in Toronto should be familiar. This year, the event is renamed to SCREENS.

It’s two full days of presentations and one optional day of workshop, all focused on mobile development for various devices.

Topics covered include:

Android OS • App Success • BlackBerry Tablet OS • Corona SDK • Designing for Mobile • Mobile Marketing • Digital Home • Grand Central Dispatch and Blocks • iOS • jQuery Mobile • Managing Mobile Projects • Metro • Microsoft Stack • HCI • QNX • Thread Management • UI • UX • Windows Phone

Companies represented include:

Microsoft • Adobe • HP • Wavefront • Indusblue • QNX • Mobicartel • Ludicrous Software • Jam3 Media • Best Buy • WhereCloud Inc. • Almer/Blank • Transcontinental Interactive • Teehan + Lax • Canadian Film Center

And speakers include:

Adam Stanley • Alex Kennberg • Bob Burns • Brad Wing • Brady Gilchrist • Chuck Freedman • Darren Osadchuk • Erik Von Harten • Faisal Abid • Greg Carron • Hod Greeley • James Maynard • Jean-Luc David • Joshua Granick • Joshua Marinacci • Julian Dolce • Kevin Suttle • Marin Alejandro • Martin Dufort • Matt Fisher • Matt Rix • Matthew Patience • Mikko Haapoja • Paul Laberge • Pearl Chen • Peter Nitsch • R Blank • Renaun Erickson • Robert Burdick • Rogers • Ryan Creighton • Sam Mithani • Scott Janousek • Steve Mason • Ted Patrick • Timothy Quinn

November 14-15, 2011 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Thanks to the folks at FITC, here is a 10% off promo code: Quantumwave. The super early bird special ends on August 26, just 3 days away.

See you there!

Screen scaling for different devices

In multi-device development, one of the issues to deal with is displaying the same content in different screen resolutions. Corona SDK offers a simple solution by specifying the scaling mode in the config.lua file. The scaling modes include: none, letterbox, zoomEven, zoomStretch. Sometimes it’s easier to understand by seeing the visual difference than reading the docs.

Below are the 4 modes displayed in four different devices (starting top-left clockwise: Galaxy Tab, iPad, iPhone & iPhone 4). The background photo is loaded at the Galaxy Tab screen resolution (1024×600).

To view the original full-size images, click on the images to view at Flickr (then choose Actions -> View all sizes), or use the links at the bottom of this post.

 

None

Screen Scaling None

 

 

Letterbox

Screen Scaling Letterbox

 

ZoomEven

Screen Scaling ZoomEven

 

ZoomStretch

Screen Scaling ZoomStretch

 

The source files used to create the display can be downloaded here. The four full size images are here: None, Letterbox, ZoomEven, ZoomStretch.

Hope this is useful.

 

Addictive Games

I’m putting together a list of current and previous addictive games for mobile (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, Nokia…), desktop, console or other devices.

What I mean by addictive is games that keep pulling the player back, games that keep players up for hours. Here is a quick list to start off with (I’m not including version or edition to keep things simpler):

  • Zynga Poker
  • A Monster Ate My Homework
  • Angry Birds
  • Bejeweled
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Call of Duty
  • Halo
  • Myst
  • Pacman

Why am I putting together this list? First of all, I want to identify the ingredients of successful and addictive games. I’d also like to find out what people are interested in and why? And hopefully this would be a place where other game developers can find inspirations to create more addictive games.

Please add to the comments of games that you feel are truely addictive (max one self-promotion allowed if you think your game qualifies as addictive to other people). Thanks!

FITC Toronto 2011 (with promo code)

Look at this banner. What do you see?

To me, it reminds me how time flies. Has it been 10 years already!?

The memory of the first Flash In The Can (before it was renamed to FITC) is still fresh in my mind. I gave a presentation on Object-Oriented Programming in ActionScript 1.0. The room was packed and people were sitting on the floor in front of me, with more standing outside the door. Because the next session speaker had to cancel and more people wanted to come to my session, I was asked to do another presentation. It was great to see so much interest back then on OOP in Flash. Of couse, things have changed so much since, with ActionScript 2.0 and 3.0, improvements to the language attracted many developers from other domains to Flash.

In the years after that first event, I also presented on Design Patterns, more ActionScript, Flash development, Flash Lite, and mobile development… And now we’re in this “post-PC” era, where mobility and geolocation are reaching the mainstream. With it comes more mobile devices, tablets, and the competition on the mobile space is just getting started.

FITC is the most successful design and technology conference/festival. This year you can get 10% discount using this code: swfoo10

I’m glad to be part of the FITC family from the very beginning. This 10th anniversary event is certainly more exciting than ever. Check out the FITC 2011 Toronto website for more info.

Keepon

“Keepon is a small creature-like robot designed to interact with children by directing attention and expressing emotion. Keepon’s minimal design makes its behaviors easy to understand, resulting in interactions that are enjoyable and comfortable”

My Keepon is the $40 version of this originally $30,000 experiment.

More info at BeatBot.

Kinect for Creative and Visual Programming

Got interested in the Kinect for the potential creative uses with third-party tools, open source drivers and libraries… and had one delivered today. I’m interested in hooking it up with the computer and experiementing with 3D spacial / object recognition, and creative visual programming. Thanks to the open source community, here are a few notable resources:

OpenKinect and OpenKinect Google Group

KinectHacks

Kinect and Processing

OpenFramework

Want to see it in action? Head over to YouTube and search for: Kinect open source

Apps that crash my iPhone

I just opened up XCode and had a look at the crash logs of my iPhone. I wonder how many of these apps are written in Objective-C… Oops, looks like the most problematic apps are written by Apple… 😯

And Skype, when are we going to get 3G calling and Push Notification? While you’re at it, please make it more stable too. Thanks.

i? – Best web experience?!

A day before Apple announced the iPad, I was contacted by Lee Simmons who writes for DigitalMediaBuzz.com. Lee would like to hear my opinion about the Flash and iPhone controversy. Here is the transcript of my answer to him a week ago:

What types of Flash apps do you develop for mobile?

I’ve done applications such as weather, news, device user-interface, built-in device applications such as photo gallery and video player, TV/set-top box user interface and shopping apps, and of course entertainment.

How long has Quantumwave been in business? What particular markets do you serve?

The company started in 1993, and was incorporated in 1998. Our clients are very diverse: from small shops, to agencies, to larger companies and international enterprises. In recent years, most of our projects are device or mobile related, but we also work on projects for other markets including international non-profit organizations on rich internet applications, video and gaming…etc.

In general, what is your take on the Flash-iPhone controversy?

It’s a combination of who has control over app revenue, and potential performance issues of the previous generation of the Flash Lite player. The Apple App Store is the only official method to get applications, and Apple has full control over it. If they allow Flash to run on the iPhone or iPad, users can get to a lot of content – games, video, applications…etc. without paying Apple anything. This I think is the main reason. The other possible reason is a common misconception that the mobile version of the Flash player, Flash Lite, is slow and CPU-intensive that will drain the battery life. I have Flash Lite players on other mobile devices and have not noticed significant problems as some are lead to believe.

Adobe is working hard on the next generation of the Flash Player for devices: 10.1, and it includes a lot of improvements such as hardware acceleration. However, if the main reason is about revenue, I don’t think we’ll see Flash on the iPhone or iPad soon. I do hope the two companies can come to some sort of agreement though, because as much as Apple likes to say their devices provide the best web experience, a lot of web content are using Flash for not just video or games, but enterprise applications as well. Without Flash, the web experience on the iPhone or iPad is frustrating to say the least. And HTML5 isn’t solving all the problems any time soon either. It may be able to play video, but Flash is a lot more than video. From a developer’s point of view, the rich programming language and APIs of Flash across multiple platforms have no match from other solutions at this time.

Would you rather wait for the companies to work out their differences?

No, simply because I’d rather be active then passively waiting for something that may never happen. For a lot of developers, the iPhone market is potentially a great income source. But with the tight control by Apple, there are pros and cons developing for it. With Flash and the Open Screen initiative, Adobe is in partnership with most mobile and device companies, and the Flash Player will be available on more platforms and devices this year and the years to come. To be able to develop using a single solution that can be deployed on multiple platforms is the main advantage of Flash.

Are you inclined to move forward and create Flash apps that look good and function properly on iPhones?

Yes, definitely. At this moment, there are a few other solutions that let developers tab into the iPhone market without coding in iPhone’s native Objective-C (which carries some old baggages from the past), and some of these solutions are looking quite promising. With Adobe Flash CS5, a lot of developers can use their existing knowledge and create iPhone applications in a much shorter timeframe than coding in Objective-C. Even though the content are created in Flash, the end result is a native iPhone application. As the product evolves over time, I’m certain that we’ll see a lot of developers using Flash to create content for the iPhone/iPad market. However, there will always be a need for Objective-C when these solutions cannot provide the adequate result or performance. As a result, I’m open to all possible solutions and potential markets to achieve the best balance between ease of development and performance. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple reacts to more complaints that their most popular devices cannot play Flash content.

I’d also like to add that from a developer’s perspective, the object-oriented language (ActionScript) used to build Flash applications, games and whatnot is years ahead of the current browser-supported JavaScript. Richard Leggett wrote a great post on the subject, so check it out too.