In the first half of this year Adobe will release Flash 10.1, which will add support for the countless Flash apps around the web to many mobile devices, including Android. That sounds exciting, but it’s still unclear just how well these Flash apps will perform on mobile devices — for one, there’s the matter of processing power, but there are also issues with screen size and input methods. Now Taimur Asad over at Redmond Pie has installed a pre-release version of HTC Desire ROM (which includes Flash) onto his Nexus One to get an early look at how Flash will perform on the device. And for his first test, he’s put Zynga’s massive hit FarmVille though its paces. We’ve embedded his video walkthrough below.
So how does it look? Passible, at best. Some of Asad’s finger taps don’t seem to register properly (though he admits to not knowing how to play, so he wasn’t always clicking in the right places). But even if the game worked perfectly, the small screen size clearly isn’t ideal — you’re forced to constantly pan and zoom to get anything done. That said, the application did appear to run pretty smoothly on the Nexus One’s Snapdragon processor.
Given these issues, I suspect developers behind popular Flash applications will build versions that are optimized for mobile form factors. And while these Flash apps won’t work in the browser on the iPhone, developers should be able to bundle them into native applications using Adobe CS5’s export tool.
Update: Adobe says that the Flash player running on the phone is an upgraded version of Flash Lite 3, not Flash Player 10.1 (which will be released later this year:
At Mobile World Congress Adobe demonstrated the full Flash Player (Flash Player 10.1) running on Android, Palm webOS and other mobile platforms. The HTC Desire will support Flash Player 10.1 once the runtime is available in the first half of 2010. Users will be able to upgrade the free player over the air. Until then the HTC Desire will ship with a new version of Flash Lite that supports ActionScript 3, and other new features. The Farmville demo shown on Redmondpie is using Flash Lite, not the full Flash Player.
Given that most of my issues with the app have to do with user interaction rather than performance, I’m hoping Flash 10.1 will play nicer with Flash apps that aren’t optimized for a mobile form factor.
Note: If you want to try this yourself it’s possible to install the early ROM to your own Nexus One, but you may well run into some major bugs — this isn’t something for the faint of heart (yet).