Tag Archives: Nokia N95

Adobe’s New Tools for Mobile Creators

You have no doubt read the press releases from Adobe Systems about its CS4 software for mobile content creators and you’ve probably heard of Adobe’s Open Screen project. If you’re a mobile content creator, should you care? MobilizedTV says Yes and explains why below.

Adobe’s Open Screen launched in May, the result of five years of work to get Flash onto devices of all types, from mobile phones to ATM machines, says Anup Murarka, Adobe’s director of technical marketing for Mobile and Device. “What we’ve seen across over 800 million deployments are two industry goals or common challenges that the Open Screen project is trying to address: the first is enabling web browsing and rich internet applications across a broad range of devices and desktops,” he says. “The second–and one we hear most clearly from our developers–has been to give them opportunities to enable them to publish and deliver content and applications across screens more easily than they can today.”

“It’s almost trivial to publish content on the web today,” he notes. “We’d like to bring some of that ease of publishing and distribution to the device industry.”

Murarka spoke about “two use cases” for Flash. the first for stand-alone applications and the second for web browsing. Stand-alone applications relies on AIR, the technology Adobe launched on the desktop for building desktop applications. “If you want to build an application that uses all the same web technologies you’re used to but deliver it outside the browser, AIR enables this,” he says. “An application installer allows developers to ship a binary that installs exactly the same way on Mac, Windows and the beta of Linux as well. We’re going to take that same packaging format and work with different device partners to enable that as well, so you’ll have the same application binaries installable on devices, not just desktops.”

“One of the biggest gaps we have between Flash on the desktop and on a mobile devices is a difference in the scripting language,” he continues. “On the desktop, we support Active Script 3 and in mobile, we’re only at Active Script 2. We’re working with Mozilla on an open source project to get that script working well for devices, essentially bringing the scripting language up-to-date.”

The second element to the standalone application is support for hardware acceleration. “Clearly mobile devices don’t have the same processing power,” he says. “There’s often a ten times difference, and for the high end of those categories. a lot more has to be done. A lot of our energy has been focused on taking advantage of all hardware features to accelerate the graphics capabilities of Flash. We believe we can support AIR on a fairly wide range of phones, from high-end smart phones all the way to mass market feature phones.”

What will this mean for the content creator? “It gets back to the idea that developers/designers used to using web technologies can use the same skillsets and deliver applications not dependent on a browser to a wider range of devices than they’ve been able to.”

The second use case–which builds off the first–is web browsing. “Mobile browsers have become more powerful and capable,” says Murarka. “We’re working to enable a complete web experience on high-end mobile devices. We still won’t see web compatibility on low-end devices, but we do believe, based on several months of engineering work, that we can get desktop-compatible browsers working on smart phones. We’ll need the same hardware acceleration and script browser, but it would live inside the browser. We’re working with partners so that all those browsers will be updated to support Flash.”

A great example of this is our work with Nokia on the Nokia E71 with a browser that actually had a Flash plug-in and could browse existing web content. “The E71 is a first attempt between our two companies to get that web compatibility working well,” he says. “We’re going to continue to work on it. With Open Screen, we hope to release something that’s 100 percent compatible with web content. It’ll take a lot of effort and it’ll take a while and it won’t be on all phones, but we believe we can do it with the high-end smart phone.”

Adobe has also been successful at creating a suite of well-known software tools for content creators, including Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver. Creative Suite 4 (CS4) focuses on the broader workflow, from planning through management of assets and metadata all the way through delivery.

Carol Linburn, Adobe group product manager, for mobile authoring, describes how CS4’s Device Central helps mobile content creators. “Particularly relevant for mobile is the explosion of new devices and the number of screens people are targeting,” she says. “The major brands are thinking how they can move content across these screens. RIght now, there is a lot of additional testing and complexity with piping out content in all these different ways and formats. There’s a lot of versioning of content, and it’s more complex and harder to get started.” To keep content developers abreast of where their content might be headed, every time you open CS4, it will show a window of newly shipped devices.

Testing and optimizing is a “huge time sink,” says Lindburn, and Device Central is aimed at shrinking that. “We’re doing some interesting things around automating the testing process,” she says. “Instead of a developer going device by device, they can set up a test script and set it up for 50 to 100 devices. Then they can see the 10 phones where their content isn’t running correctly, go in and diagnose the problem.”

“Automated testing is moving from a world where you have to test everything individually, to a position where you can create a test script to interact with the content and capture keystroke interactions, which can be shared with different developers,” says Lindburn. “You can use that as a way to batch test and not have to test sequentially. You can test simultaneously and you get visual output [snapshots] and error messages that might occur for different devices. We can also adjust latency and so on to give the developer a chance to see what the content looks like on a slower or faster network.”

Another challenge addressed by the new Adobe software focuses on how to showcase content for clients. “If you’re in LA and your client is in NY, and you’re targeting a Nokia N95, but the client doesn’t have one, you have to FedEx one across the country,” she says. “This isn’t conducive to the design process, which is iterative.”

To showcase content to clients, Adobe has added two things: Device Central will spit out a quick storyboard that can be saved to an HTML file that’s easy to share. Likewise, the content creator can capture a video recording and save it as a Quicktime file for people to view. “The person viewing the content doesn’t even need CS4 installed, so it’s a much easier way to share content with a broader audience,” says Lindburn.

She also states that Adobe looked at how to get Flash designers used to building for the web to bridge to the mobile platform. That problem is addressed by Device Central, which is already integrated with the toolset those Flash animators are already using. “It allows them to preview their work on a variety of devices and a range of media types within the same environment,” she says.

“The other piece to get people started is an easier way to manage mobile projects,” says Lindburn. “There is complexity with keeping all the assets together and CS4 offers project management capability. How do I get my files to a phone? You might have different publishing routines or “output tasks” and I can set them up and do it with a single click.” Adobe has also built an SDK (software development kit) for partners to plug into Device Central directly with their different packaging routines.

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CTIA 2008: The Walls Are Crumbling…

In fairytales, things usually happen in threes. At CTIA 2008, I espied three trends that promise, if not a fairy tale ending, at least a major game change in the future of mobile usage in the U.S. The evidence was everywhere that the garden walls surrounding the carriers’ pick of content for mobile users is still there, but crumbling. Hastening the inevitable, broadband mobile Internet made a strong showing at CTIA, proving its inevitability. Lastly, the number of companies pitching easy ways for Internet content creators to “mobilize” their content was amazing. Since I’ve been a big proponent of all three of these directions for the mobile content market, I had a happy time at the show.

Let me just draw attention to a handful of the companies I met with and a few of the items that caught my attention. First, one of the stars of the show was RIM’s new clam-shell Blackberry Pearl 8220.

new Blackberry Pearl

new Blackberry Pearl 8220

I’m perfectly happy with my Blackberry 8830 World Edition, but if a clam-shell Blackberry rocks your world, more power to you. And the new Blackberry does have quad-band support so it’s a world edition too.

I also had a fun time in the Yahoo booth where I got their new voice search application downloaded to my Blackbery. It’s a lot of fun to play around with, although it can’t always make sense of what I say (and that’s probably not the application’s fault), I can easily correct what appears in the browser. For the free download, go here.

QuickPlay Media is all about trying to make the mobile internet experience successful, says vp of marketing Mark Hyland. “Our CEO Wayne Purboo’s vision was that networking speeds were going to get faster and that broadband wireless would be big,” he says. “We believe that you can’t take a PC web browsing experience and cram it on to a mobile device. Mobile is very location and context specific. It makes a difference where you’re using it.”

At CTIA 2008, the company began beta-testing a brand new service for media and entertainment customers to cheaply, quickly and easily publish video to the iPhone. “And ultimately to all video-enabled devices, but we’re focusing on iPhone first because of the interest,” says Hyland. “In 5 minutes you can take existing videos in any format and create a full video site for iPhone.” This new product is expected to be released by Q4 2008; the price is not yet set.

I checked in with Nokia‘s Kamar Shah with regard to Ovi, the company’s entertainment and media sharing service, as well as the company’s future plans in the entertainment space.Once again, the mobile Internet came to the fore. “From my perspective, in the area I work in, I want to show relevance of Nokia within this market in the Internet world,” he says. “I would justify that two-fold: we’re not taking the Internet and putting it on the mobile device. We’re redefining and evolving the Internet experience. That is based on what the consumer wants. Social networking makes up 20 percent of user time – after search and mail. It’s a phenomenon. We want to take that further and make it relevant to the consumer. We also have to make the advertising relevant, we have to get it right. There’s a very low tolerance for spam on the mobile phone.”

Referring to filmmaker L.M. Kit Carson’s “Africa Diary,” which he is shooting with his N95 camera, Shah also noted that this year Nokia partnered with MTV to supply N95s to the network’s journalists for Super Tuesday; content was streamed to MTV sites. Stay tuned to MobilizedTV for more news about Nokia and the entertainment world.

UIEvolution is an answer to the cacophony of mobile’s competing operating systems, devices and networks.”Mobile phones are so fragmented in terms of operating systems,” saysKeith O’Neill, vp, business development. “The thin client technology puts a layer of frosting that gives a seamless system so you can develop on top of that without worrying that it won’t work. We can work with PCs, STBs, consumer electronics devices , and automotive audio systems.”

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

UIEvolution's Keith O'Neill

Fragmentation prohibits growth and innovation because it becomes cost prohibitive for content creators without deep pockets, says O’Neill, and to that end, UIEvolution is rolling out Blender, a new web developer tool and service that takes web content–text, graphics and video–and mobilizes it. The business model is based on a revenue-sharing model. The web content creator pays a set-up fee, and then splits revenue with UIEvolution, the percentage of the split depending on volume. “For all that, we host and cover all the on-going device support.”

DeviceAnywhere was another interesting destination. Any content developer worried about making the video playable on the hundreds of devices out there can do so…remotely. DeviceAnywhere is an online service that provides access to hundreds of real handsets, on live worldwide networks, remotely over the Internet for developing, testing and porting. Once again, a great solution for web creatives who want to mobilize their content without becoming computer/wireless geeks.

Thumbplay launched Thumbplay Open, says president/CEO Are Traasdahl. “It gives the ability for any content creator to sell their content to 250 million wireless users across every carrier, operating system and handset,” he says. “It’s been hard for anyone creating content to get distribution because it’s beeen very carrier controlled. “The wall is down. Now it is one big happy garden.” The challenge has bee to build a platform that works not just across handsets and operating systems but across all billing systems and video codecs. “Our system is built so it automatically detects what handsest is trying to access the content and it converts on the fly to whatever the handset requires. Our system will convert to 2,500 different handsets and it’s all seamless.”

So far, the system is launched for visual artists and musicians, but will expand to video. Click here to try it yourself.

Once the content is uploaded into Thumbplay’s system, the content creator can distribute and sell the content (the system only accepts uncopyrighted material). The system allows you to create a widget which you post to your MySpace, Facebook pages. Or you can get your own URL and sell your content from that site. “You pay nothing to put your images or music up there, although we are evaluating if there should be a fee,” says Traasdahl. “You have to pay to consume the content, either per download, which costs $1 – 3, out of which the artist gets $.50. Or you join the Thumbplay service which is $9.99 a month. Any time someone signs up for the service through the artist’s page, that artist gets $5 to 8.” (Tay Zonday of Chocolate Rain fame made $10,000 in three months but, says Traasdahl, “he’s a very smart marketer.”)

Also new from Thumbplay was the announcement of a partnership with Comcast to provide the cable MSO with mobile entertainment services include ringtones, games, video, and music.

Last but not least, I met with David Danon of SonicBoom Media, a company that launched “Name That Tune,” a mobile music game in 2003 (which has a great back-story too long for this report). The company, says Danon, is now a leader in creating “the bridge between Web 2.0 and mobile.”

“We reach out to people in their social networks, so they feel comfortable upgrading their web experience to the phone,” he says. “It’s more profound to share an experience on the mobile that your friend has sent you from the web.”

Danon is also a big believer in the future of user-generated video content on the mobile platform: and he isn’t just talking about YouTube. Speaking to that belief is the company’s product Videomaker, due out the end of the year, which allows the user to make long-form movies from 15- to 20-second clips taken with the mobile phone’s video camera. The clips are arranged along a timeline and then connected via transition effects. The result can be sent to a mobile phone as an MMS or to a website as Flash. Also on SonicBoom Media’s agenda is the Hot America mobile beauty pageant completely on cell phones. Each state will have a competition and send its winner to the national contest. This launches in late November and the first winners will be declared in Summer 2009

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