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Adobe MAX part 1 – Flash on the iPhone

Flash on the iPhone

It’s been a few days now since I left LA and the craziness that was my first Adobe MAX. And honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. So I’ve decided to offload my thoughts here on my blog! You lucky people. πŸ™‚

My first attempt at this blog post upset a lot of people and I later realised that it could have been more diplomatically written. So find further explanations and additions in italics.

MAX keynote

The Nokia theatre is impressive, with a huge screen and two massive HD LED screens on either side of the stage. The stage set is a montage of various famous LA buildings.

The keynote starts with a group of kids graffitiing up a wall and then scanning it into illustrator. It just seemed like such a contrived attempt to appear hip. I later find out it’s the Peapod academy, and I am somewhat more sympathetic to the kids who put this together themselves.

Had we been presented more of the narrative behind this, maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so contrived?

Followed by the CEO introducing the guy from Omniture. Anyone who’s ever had to integrate Omniture will know how annoying it is. And this guy was even more annoying, with an offhand remark about how rich he had become.

MAX keynote

I really enjoyed Kevin Lynch and Johnny Loiacono’s Myth Busters pastiche about Flash and the iPhone, I’ve seen similar things with KL in that have been truly cringeworthy but this was genuinely funny and well made.

Throughout the conference there was definitely too much focus on Augmented Reality in Flash. First the USPS AR tool to check your parcel size (which doesn’t work as well as a ruler), followed by a particularly glitchy John Mayer AR “experience”. Which was so tenuous an excuse to get John Mayer involved as i’ve ever seen. But the man himself was charming and funny.

I need to back up this statement by explaining my own history with AR. It was pretty fun at first and I did a couple of cool experiments and one project. But since then I’ve been jaded by many advertising creatives coming up with increasingly poor excuses to use this technology. It just seems like it’s the new thing that people do without really thinking about it. Kind of like the page turn effect was a couple of years ago.

To be fair, the John Mayer thing did look good. It just didn’t seem to run very well. As someone who spends weeks and weeks on optimising 3D rendering in Flash I notice these things.

John Mayer

And of course the big announcement was Flash compilation for the iPhone. I love that Adobe got onto the iPhone by stealth, and it’s brilliant that there are already Flash apps on the App Store. I’m really interested to hear what Apple have to say about that!

The truth is though that Flash certainly doesn’t currently run very well on the iPhone, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect it to. It’ll The CPU on the iPhone and other devices generally run at 1% to 10% of the speed it runs on a of desktop CPUs, which makes it currently unusable for all but the simplest of apps. I think that for the vast majority of iPhone apps you’ll be better off building with native code, certainly if you want the slick and smooth experience that you’re used to.

Look at Fickleblox as an example of how glitchy Flash animation is on the iPhone. (Most of the other Flash based apps avoid this sort of thing).

When you think about how hard this must have been to achieve, you can understand why people at Adobe are defensive about it, and I’m sure that any negative reaction comes as a surprise to them. After all, isn’t it what we’ve been asking for all this time?

I agree with Keith who expresses his opinion much more eloquently than me and has the experience to back it up. So go on over to his blog post and the subsequent comments.

More thoughts from MAX coming.

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