Impressions on Adobe MAX Keynote

I’m here at the keynote, listening to Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch talk about the Flash Innovation Timeline. Some of my general thoughts:

  • Josh James of Omniture was on stage a moment ago, but not many people appreciated his “Omniture Is Awesome” speech. Not enough time spent talking about Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture, too much time bragging about the huge money that’s been thrown at him and his big clientele.
  • Flash Player 10.1 is going to be a big step forward for leveraging mobile devices’ attributes with Flash. 50% reduction of RAM usage on current web content (videos, ads, animation) and possibilites for accelerometer and social networking. They’ve also been optimizing battery usage: Flash Video will be able to play over 3 hours of video or 6.5 hours of animation on a phone with a single charge. A dimmed screen will run for 14.5 hours! Kevin demonstrated Flash animation and video on Nokia and Android phones as well as live web conferencing with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro in real time—on the mobile device. I am really pleased to see this: I’m currently in mobile web training with the W3C and we are taught to shy away from rich media because it makes for a bad browsing experience on phones. Flash Player 10.1 has all the right ideas but I think it will take years before these capabilities get true penetration to rural areas and Third World countries. Those with slick smartphones will see these improvements much, much sooner.
  • I need to learn more about Adobe’s Open Screen Project. Google and RIM joined it today. Right now Kevin is talking about improved video playback on netbooks and televisions—streaming Flash video in HD. The video looks great—clear Flash video on TV and netbooks, a lot different than the usual YouTube video experience. But that is changing….
  • AIR 2.0 is here. USB storage device detection, performance increases, native installer support, socket servers, UDP support and increased accessibility. You can also launch native applications with AIR 2.0 applications. The AIR team is making all the right moves with this announcement, and I would be curious to compare AIR 2.0 with Silverlight, which I honestly don’t know much about. Kevin just demoed an AIR application that detected content on a USB device when it was plugged in and launched a file in its native application. Another application was able to execute a search on multiple online and local resources and also use the computer’s microphone to record and play back sound.
  • AIR 2.0 and Flash Player 10.1 handles gesture and touch events, so multitouch applications are a possibility. Kevin demoed a New York Times reader and a photo-posting website (it wasn’t announced, but I could see the URL is http://beta.adobepost.com/).
  • Rob Tarkoff, Adobe’s Senior VP/GM of BPBU is talking about building enterprise software that “works the way systems work” and “work the way people work.” The big push is for data visualization through the Flash Platform, LiveCycle and ColdFusion. ColdFusion upgrades to version 9 and LiveCycle Enterprise Suite upgrades to version 2. Both CF and LC are getting cloud production capabilities, plug-ins for Flash Builder and other advancements.
  • Johnny Loiacono has just taken the stage. This is what I’m most interested in because it’s about the tools I use daily in my work. He’s demoing the unreleased Photoshop CS5 with a Wacom tablet. Photoshop CS5 has some new brush improvements that remind me of what Corel Painter has done for years: brushes respond to tablet pen angles and move and mix color in a realistic way—not just by mixing pixels.
  • Flash Pro looks like it is also going to be getting some text tools from InDesign, including the text engine needed for multi-column and threaded text boxes. It’s also sporting new physics capabilities that allow more realistic movements such as bobbling and bouncing. Johnny is also showing some code snippets that are to help people use ActionScript 3.0—this is still a difficult thing for many designers to handle.
  • Now on to Flash Catalyst. I have had the beta for months but admit I’ve been too busy to really play with it. It’s designed to make Flash creation easier, and it’s certainly easier to build things like buttons and video, but the interface is still complicated. I don’t think you can get around this when you’re creating multimedia. Johnny’s demo of Flash Catalyst looks nice, and he knows zero ActionScript (his admission) so I will be curious to explore the new beta 2, available today.
  • Now we’re being treated to a Mythbusters with Kevin and Johnny blending an iPhone with a Flash CD—making fun of the notion that iPhones do not run Flash. Johnny announced that Flash applications do now run natively on the iPhone—and demoed the game Chromacircuit on an iPhone. These apps are already on the iPhone App Store. This is news to me, and I’m curious to hear more. Johnny showed how it’s done in Flash, and it looks like Flash Pro actually publishes to a new iPhone setting (instead of Flash Player 10 or Flash Lite). He also mentioned that this is not interpreted code but native iPhone code, so I think this is actually not Flash but native iPhone code. I’ll be researching this new announcement.
  • Now we’re going to see Jim Cameron’s new movie Avatar, and I’ll publish more.