Belgian designer/coder Thomas Joos seems to have beaten Adobe to the punch: He has successfully gotten an application built with Flash Lite, a version of Adobe’s Flash animation/video software for mobile phones, to run on an iPhone.
Adobe’s mission to get its Flash software on the iPhone — mildly successful so far — is well-documented. Most recently, Adobe (ADBE) CEO Shantanu Narayen said the company had a version of Flash running on an iPhone emulator (on a Mac), but not yet on an actual phone.
But Joos did figure out how to get Flash on an actual iPhone to run his app, a guide to the 2008 Rock Werchter music festival in Belgium. To be clear, Joos hasn’t yet gotten Flash to work on an iPhone the way it does on a computer — as a Web browser plug-in — so it won’t be much use for looking at the millions of Flash animations or videos already on the Web. But it’s an interesting proof-of-concept that — if turned into an open-source or commercial service — could allow Flash developers to quickly become iPhone developers.
So how’d Joos do it? With a framework called b.Tween and a graphics tool called eyeGT. (See video below.) Or in more technical terms, via iPhone Atlas:
The port uses a framework that sits on top of eyeGT, a graphic renderer capable of handling vector graphics and bitmaps. eyeGT allows definition of buttons, animations, hierarchical containers, colour and special effects, and the like. It works on the iPhone/iPod touch as well as several other mobile devices. Joos created a framework called b.Tween that allows easy conversion of applications to ActionScript, a scripting language used for Flash development. The result is native, Flash Lite-compliant code that is passed through eyeGT for rendering.
Very cool — we hadn’t seen this done before. One hurdle: We’re not sure if the technique Joos uses is in line with Apple’s software developer rules — or will be allowed into Apple’s iPhone apps store, the only official way to distribute iPhone apps.
To use Joos’ app you need to “jailbreak” your phone so it can run unofficial third-party apps. That’s fine in Belgium, where all iPhones there (so far) are unofficial, anyway, and have been hacked to work with local mobile carriers. But in the U.S., we expect the jailbreak community to be small once the iPhone apps store launches.
So what are Adobe’s prospects of getting Flash where it’s most useful — embedded into a Web page, viewed on the iPhone’s MobileSafari browser?
Even if Adobe figures out the technical challenges, it would still need a special business agreement to get Flash to work with the iPhone’s browser, or would need to create and distribute a new Flash-enabled Web browser from scratch. (Which Apple would still need to approve.) And Steve Jobs has said publicly that he doesn’t think Flash Lite is good enough for the iPhone, anyway. So the company still has its work cut out.
Adobe Flash Coming To Apple’s iPhone — Maybe, Someday
Steve Jobs: Flash Not Good Enough For iPhone. Is Microsoft’s Silverlight?
Will The iPhone’s Apps Store Kill The ‘Jailbreak’ Market? Maybe Not