Changing the User Agent on an Android phone

This posting on Lifehacker is very useful if Android’s tendancy towards bouncing you over to mobile versions of sites is annoying you. However, I noticed you can also play around with the Flash plug-in settings using this method too; switching between Flash 10 and Flash Lite (on Froyo anyway).

Flash 10.1 on Google’s Nexus One

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlWOocHwcLo

Adobe have announced Flash 10.1 for the Nexus One. While it looks okay, I can’t say there’s anything from this early demo which significantly impresses me (either as a developer or web user). It seems the National Geographic demo is primarily geared towards business, as it highlights the ability for Flash ads and banners to finally appear alongside regular web content (yes!). Flash ads and banners are exactly the type of content normal web users would prefer NOT to appear, and this is especially the case if accessing the web across a dodgy 3G connection. As a developer I also couldn’t see much on that site preview which SHOULD’VE been Flash and could’ve just as easily been done in JavaScript (aside from the nested video). Bad example Adobe.

The main thing that bugs me about the video is that Adobe are marketing it as “Flash 10.1”. Unless it provides comparable performance, usability and a feature set to the Flash people know on desktop computers then I don’t think it’s a great idea marketing it with the same product name. You can market it to developers as the same product if coding for either player is largely similar, but to end users it can only lead to disappointment and frustration when their mobile version of Flash doesn’t perform in a similar way, or it doesn’t perform at all due to features of normal desktop 10.1 being disabled in the mobile player. This has occurred with Flash in the past; where versions are marketed as being certain numbered versions but have lots of essential sub functions disabled (sometimes for understandable reasons, such as printing on the Sony PSP Flash Player 6).

It’s for this reason that I don’t have a problem with “Flash Lite” (from an end user’s point of view). It’s identified as a different product, and has typically been distributed across mobile devices… devices which largely share certain feature restrictions in comparison to the desktop versions of Flash. If a user compares Flash Lite between two mobile devices he/she will notice more similarities than differences than if he/she made a comparison with the full version on a desktop computer.

Don’t get me wrong; even though the above dwells on negatives I think it’s great that Flash is coming to Google’s new phone but I think it’s mainly from a development point of view (that I may get to play around with it). With Adobe’s increased focus on the monetisation of Flash I hope they don’t lose focus on the experience of end users (installing, using and maintaining Flash versions) and want they might want from the product.