Flash and iPhone

October 11th, 2009 § 1 comment

It’s been a few days now since Adobe announced that Flash CS5 Professional will have a “publish for iPhone” feature for ActionScript 3 projects. Just wanted to jot down a few thoughts:

As a Flash developer and geek, the technology seems pretty damn impressive to me. It actually includes the LLVM compiler? Wild.

Still, there are technical concerns, although to be fair, there are many months before CS5 ships. And for the moment, Flash-built apps won’t have access to things like the iPhone’s native UIKit controls, but they will have access to the accelerometer and multitouch (which at first I thought they did not).

Furthermore, as an iPhone developer, I have concerns, and in a way these concerns have less to do with Adobe’s actions than Apple’s: the single chokepoint that is the App Store and its review/approval system. It’s clear that Apple’s review system does not scale (longer and longer delays in approvals), and discoverability is bad enough as it is with the number of apps in the store now and the limited number of ways there are to browse and find things in the store.

If the iPhone app ecosystem was completely open, with many “stores” and multiple ways of finding and buying apps, I’d welcome Flash-built iPhone apps with open arms: the more the merrier. As it is, though, I worry a bit about the flood of muck as every Flash developer (over a million by Adobe’s count: A MILLION!) with a back catalogue of content tries to get their old code into the App Store.

Some obvious predictions:

  • We’ll see more than a few Flash component libraries that emulate UIKit controls
  • Apple will unofficially delay or reject Flash-built apps for the first while until/unless Adobe and Apple come to some kind of understanding (see the issues that PhoneGap apps have had in the past, and that uses all native SDKs!).
  • Flash developers will find it more difficult than they expect to get their old code working well on the iPhone
  • Many iPhone programming contracts will be lost as clients decide (correctly or incorrectly) that they can do their iPhone project in-house with Flash

Still, I have to admit I personally can’t wait to get my hands on the public beta of Flash CS5. I enjoy working with Flash and ActionScript.

§ One Response to Flash and iPhone

  • Keith Peters says:

    As far as the last bullet point prediction, yes, it will happen. But they will soon realize their error.

    Bottom line: if you are serious about iPhone development, you will use Objective-C/C/C++.

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