I just got back from a crazy fleeting visit to Amsterdam for FITC, and now the dust is settling, I wanted to talk about some cool new features in FlashPlayer 10.1, especially now that FlashPlayer 10.1 Beta 3 has just been released on Adobe Labs!
RTMFP – Peer-to-peer networking
Yes it’s quite catchy name I know, and this stuff was introduced into the FlashPlayer at version 10, but I haven’t actually seen much use of it as yet. One of its limitations of it was that if you wanted to broadcast to multiple users your FlashPlayer would have to deliver that content to every single connected user. Which needs a lot of bandwidth!
But the new 10.1 introduces some really clever new technology that spreads the load across different users. So you can broadcast your video to one person and their FlashPlayer will then pass that stream on to other connected users nearby. It’s kinda like BitTorrent except it’s all in the browser.
This is a really exciting area for video broadcasting although I hear that on initial video tests it’s a little fragile – probably due to the fact that it’s based on the lossy UDP protocol. But its real strength should be in multiplayer gaming – I hear from my friends at Influxis that latency times are reduced by 50-75%. So this is an area I’ll be doing some research into that’s for sure!
Microphone access – finally!
This is something that caught me out a couple of years ago when we were creating a sound to vision system at FlashBrighton. We got some cool effects working with MP3 files, but then we realised we couldn’t actually use these at gigs as we couldn’t process the audio coming into the microphone/line input.
I was delighted to get the email notification yesterday that this feature request on Adobe’s Jira bug reporting system has now been completed! 🙂 Excellent news, it means that we can now create some fun audio triggered games. This is important for the type of kids’ projects that we work on at Plug-in Media.
Flash 10.1 for Devices
This is hot news and I have to admit to being sceptical at first, as my luke-warm reports from MAX demonstrate. But no matter what you think about Flash on mobiles, you have to admit that FlashPlayer on Nexus One is an impressive engineering feat. The combination of a 1Ghz processor combined with a complete rewrite from the player engineers has brought the a fully functioning FlashPlayer on to a device for the first time.
Now clearly it has its limitations, I’ve tested the Plug-in Media site on it, and it runs at about 4 frames a second, and it also skips frames – a new way that the mobile FlashPlayer saves processor time. I’ve also tested LunarLander3D on it, which also runs at 4 frames per second. To be fair though, these are both processor heavy projects pushing Flash in the browser to the limits.
Testing LunarLander3D revealed another interesting issue – you can’t control this game at all as it is keyboard controlled. And you only get the keyboard entry pop-up if you click on a text field. So pretty much all key controlled flash games are gonna have to be rewritten if you wanna be able to play them on devices!
But this is very early days, and an excellent first step; the fact that a full FlashPlayer is running on these very limited platforms is very impressive. I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens over the next few months.
(If you’re interested in Flash on Devices you should definitely read Thibault’s white paper on the subject).
So exciting times for the Flash Platform, and these are the areas that caught my attention, but which new features of FlashPlayer10.1 excite you! There’s a full list here.