A big congratulations to Adobe. Flash Player 10.1 is now available on the Android Market for Android 2.2 devices. Those planning to purchase new handsets such as the Motorola Droid 2 will be pleased to know that Flash Player 10.1 will come pre-installed allowing Flash content to work straight out of the box.

It’s a fairly modest list of devices at the moment with the Google Nexus One, HTC Evo 4G, HTC Desire, and Motorola Droid 2 initially receiving support. But as newer phones come to market and more existing handsets get upgraded to Android 2.2 we should start to see some significant Flash Player penetration.

I’ve had 10.1 installed on my Nexus One for a couple of months now and I’ve enjoyed having access to content that I wouldn’t normally be able to see on my phone.

I have noticed that the player’s performance has been criticised in some quarters and others have highlighted usability issues with existing content as reasons why everyone should ditch Flash/ActionScript for JavaScript.

Personally I believe these issues are mostly with the content rather than the Flash Player itself. I guess that’s always going to be the case when running content that was for the most part designed without mobile in mind and/or developed some time ago using obsolete versions of ActionScript.

The simple fact is there’s a lot of JavaScript heavy content out there that just doesn’t work well, or at all, on mobile either. I spent some time at the weekend trying out various JavaScript and HTML5 demos and found that most of them were completely unusable on my Nexus One (also tested on iPod touch and iPhone 4) due to either performance or usability issues (mostly both). That includes demos from popular HTML5 sites such as Canvas Demos and HTML5 Demos.

I’m certainly not trying to deride JavaScript or the excellent work that’s clearly going on in the community. I’m simply trying to add some perspective. It seems people are quick to criticise Flash when the exact same performance and usability issues on mobile have yet to be addressed by any other language.

I guess there’s so much Flash content out there that it makes it an easy target, but I for one am glad I now have a way of checking-out that content on mobile.

JavaScript and HTML5 will continue to march forward and replace many tasks that Flash was traditionally used for. My fear however is that developers will naively believe that using these technologies will somehow ensure their content will magically work on mobile. People need to realise that the user experience is very different on mobile and need to design with it in mind.

If we don’t then it won’t really matter what programming languages or virtual machines we eventually opt for.

  1. So, if developers have to start their designs from scratch, why choose a closed technology like Flash again?

    The only answer I can think of, and it is a very compelling one, is the excellent Flash Professional app. People may bitch about it (I certainly do), but no open technology has anything close to a competitor for it.

  2. Yeah I agree. The Flash IDE is probably the most compelling reason, plus I’d choose ActionScript 3 over JavaScript any day for building rich apps. Of course the tools available to JavaScript/HTML5 developers are bound to improve, but they aren’t there yet.

    Christopher (Author)
  3. Choosing AS3 over JavaScript is a little like choosing a broken arm over a broken leg though. I’d rather have a real language 🙂

  4. I’d say ActionScript 3 is more like a twisted ankle 🙂

    If it’s real languages you’re interested in Dave, aren’t Picsel looking for C engineers? 😉

    Christopher (Author)