Hacking away with Android pt 6 – Froyo and Flash 10.1 on Archos

Posted on December 31, 2010

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At this point in time (end of december 2010) the Archos Froyo firmware release does NOT yet come with Flash 10.1. There is a simple workarounds for that. So lets review:

Steps

  1. Install Froyo / Android 2.2 on your Archos (if not done yet) – by connecting your Archos device to your computer via USB and select the Update Firmware option – for the Archos 32 this was under Settings –> System info –> Update firmware. Video that shows you the process will be added.
  2. Install the Flash 10.1 player

To get the Flash player installed on my Archos 32, I had to do a workaround:

  1. Download the Flash 10.1 player APK to your laptop – I googled and found this post pointing to a version 1 Flash 10.1 Flash Player
  2. Attach the Archos 32 to the USB cable – and mount it to the computer
  3. Copy the Flash 10.1 player to the Archos SD card – in order to be able to start it from your Archos (or other device)
  4. Open the file-browser on the Archos and go to the location where you stored the Flash player and tap the file
  5. Start the Flash 10.1 APK – by tapping the file
  6. Let the Flash player install itself

You are good to go now.

Video – Running Flash on a Archos tablet

This video shows Flash 10.1 implemented on the Archos 101. It demostrates a Youtube application, Angry birds, but no Flash sites.

Testing it

I have tested a small set of sites and options.

  1. Portfolio sites – First was to see if I could load portfolio sites. I used this link with 40 portfolio sites and tested the top 5. On half of the sites, Flash 10.1 on the Archos 32 crashes. This could be either due to memory issues (the Archos 32 specs do not state anything, but I suspect it is comparable to either 128 MB or 256 MB of RAM) or due to some bug in the player triggered by the coding done in these sites.
  2. My own Flash sitelocated here – it runs perfectly and rather smooth related to what I saw on my MacBook Pro, but the tiny-ness of the buttons makes it hard to navigate using the Touch Screen
  3. Games from MediaRijk – via www.mediarijk.nl – the ones I tested work, including music but require a keyboard to play the games.

Purpose: developing Flash sites for Tablets

In the next year I plan to re-start working on the Flash RAD framework, completing the GUI-elements, redesigning the event and object models and class structure to make them more up to date to what I know now and stripping the current size of a compiled SWF (without images or assets) from 150 KB down to about 30 to 50 KB.

One of the targets will be SEO enabled online “magazines” – basically re-vamped content sites – aimed at tablets and using Touch and other goodies tablets have to offer.

Yesterday I ordered the Archos 101 to do some more testing on the Android platform, without spending a fortune on the hardware. So that will be my main device of choice. Naturally there is more to this. During 2011 I will start some pitching around to see what these devices can do for sales-forces: to replace the laptop as the main choice for Business to Client presentations.

Challenges in UX design and building (Flash) content for Tablets

The Archos line of products is the ideal middle-of-the-road type of machines. The price-range is between 100 and 400 euro. The performance (of the 2010 gen 9 machines) is comparable to what a Netbook would have offered 5 years ago and to mid-range Smart Phones you can buy for about 400 euro.

With:

  1. Flash 10.1 crashing – on bugs in the player or limitations in the hardware
  2. The very limited RAM available (below 512 MB) – forcing you to clean memory and use object pooling, object re-use and recycle-patterns
  3. The limitations and possiblities of Touch screens – requiring bigger hit-areas to receive touch=click triggers on the (Flash) application
  4. The limitations and increased extremes in differences on screen real-estate – ranging from 320 x 240 on the smallest devices like the Archos 28 to 800 x 400 on your average 7 inch MID (this might – hopefully – move up to 1024 x 600 in the next years for 7 inch screens) to 1920 x 1080 pixels on a HD screen

There are some nice challenges in UI-design ahead. Mainly:

  1. Defining clear UX demands and UX rulesets – for the same content on small and big screens
  2. Defining a clear rules based “content placement language” – to create dynamic- or fluid GUIs that adapt to the available real-estate (big screens of 1920 x 1080 pixels offer different options for display than small screens of 320 x 240 pixels)
  3. Limiting memory use and releasing memory on unused objects – to respect the limits of the systems offered

Demo of Flash playing on the Archos 32

[Will follow]

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