Thoughts of a Serial Tinkerer

The fragmented state of mobile app development

Posted on 01 Apr 2007.

I’m not a huge fan of FlashLite 1.1. I’ve been playing around with it for the last few days in a mobile development class I’m taking, and I find myself really just waiting to move on to FlashLite 2.0 or something else entirely.

It isn’t that FlashLite 1.1 is bad its just different. And inconsistent. I’m very glad that Adobe (Macromedia at the time) worked in what of the dot syntax they could, but I find myself wishing they had done more.

I’m also sad that the MC Tween library doesn’t work in 1.1; though my friend Sven discovered that MC Tween’s new AS2/AS3 class, Tweener, will work in 2.0. I haven’t tried that out, but I certainly intend to soon.

It is too bad that American cellular providers haven’t gotten more on the ball and started putting out more phones with FlashLite 1.1 support or, better, FlashLite 2.x support. Verizon has taken leaps and bounds by partnering with Adobe to get FlashLite in BREW; but then we discover that phones which use FlashLite for core applications, like the menus in the LG Chocolate, don’t have the ability to run a stand-alone swf player. In order for me to get Flash content to my friend’s Chocolate, I’ll have to wrap it up into a Java/BREW wrapper and even then it won’t work unless we get a developer key since my experiments obviously aren’t being sold through Verizon’s store.

Even a pair of Nokia test phones I have access to aren’t the greatest for testing. Their memory cards are buried beneath the batteries, so we beam the files via Bluetooth. You’d think that’d be fine…except the Nokias don’t natively know what to do with the swf, so you can’t move them out of the inbox without a third party tool. Add to that the stand-alone flash player for the Nokias can’t navigate into the inbox folders to open the files and you’re stuck again.

I’m discovering that even mobile application development is in something of a war-torn state just like mobile web development. Too many platforms with not enough consistency and tools which just don’t work the way their desktop counterparts do.

Adobe’s new Device Central looks very promising; it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the support for mobile web browsing testing Device Central promises. Since every phone has its own unique browser and they all seem to behave totally different from one another, I’m left wondering if Device Central will really be able to mimic what our cellphones do.