Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch said at a company event for analysts today that a full featured version of Flash for mobile phones will be available in beta by the end of this year and by early next year the technology will be making use of multi-touch and accelerometer features on smart phones.
Ted Patrick, Adobe's Senior Manager of Developer Communities, put it like this: "I think we will see Flash on different devices support the soul of the device in capabilities and APIs" - including GPS. That's an exciting trajectory and more than we've heard before. Full Flash on phones by the end of this year is more or less on schedule, but the integration of these physical features certainly revs up the imagination.
The company's presentations were reported live on Twitter by multiple analysts present; the multi-touch and accelerometer integration forecast was first tweeted by Redmonk's James Governor and then quickly passed around between attendees.
"As Apple has shown," Governor told us by phone, "the User Experience elements are really important - it's not just how you draw screens. Adobe has understood this and will be offering APIs accordingly. What's most important is that they support a new interaction model because that's what developers want. Augmented reality apps, being more gestural about how you interact with applications - that's a big deal."
Governor, whose analyst firm counts Adobe among its clients, says that things will get really interesting when the Flash developer tool Flash Builder (formerly known as Flex Builder) integrates mobile and mobile features like accelerometer and multi-touch into its development environment. That's not currently on the public road map, but seems like the next logical step. "There's all these really cool phones beyond the iPhone, like Nokia phones, that have APIs for things like accelerometers, but the functionality hasn't been taken advantage of," Governor said. "If Adobe can simplify access to this functionality for new interaction models then it can, through tools, democratize sophisticated development on these platforms."
We've had only initial contact about this with Adobe at press time but will update coverage if we get more information.
While we tend to focus here on non-gaming mobile apps, it's not hard to see that multi-touch, accelerometer and GPS use by Flash apps will probably have the biggest impact on games.
The mobile Flash demonstrations shown today by Adobe were all on Android devices, still no world on Flash for the iPhone. ("It's up to Apple," was the line again today.) A bevy of beautiful, touchable, turnable, location-aware Flash apps on Android could create a pretty compelling competitor to the contents of the iPhone app store.