As you probably know by now if you follow mobile Flash developments, Nokia recently rolled out an update to the Flash Lite player on the 5800, from the default FL 3.0 pre-installed on the device, to FL 3.1. This has been greeted with some mixed reviews from the FL community.
On the plus side, it’s a move toward updating the player without requiring a firmware update, something that’s been required in the past. I don’t know if Nokia has ever released any stats on how many people upgrade the firmware on their device, but my guess is that it’s a very low number. The process isn’t quite as seamless as it is for the iPhone, where you’re presented with information about firmware updates as soon as you plug in the device. Firmware upgrades on Nokia phones are “hidden”, accessible through a separate app that can be launched from within PC Suite but requiring the user to actively check for updates. My guess is that this keeps updates down.
So the new process is certainly easier, even though the experience could still be improved - the update is now accessible through the Application Update application on the phone. While I don’t claim to be an expert in the intricacies of S60, I have had an S60 phone for the last 4-odd years, and I couldn’t find this application (it’s not part of the Application Manager set of utilities, which to me is the obvious place for it; it’s an actually application that shows up in the Applications list, with the somewhat cryptic title of “App. Upd.”
On the downside, there’s the fragmentation issue, since it means that two people with the same device may have different versions of the FL player installed. This isn’t so much worse than the current situation of FL player upgrades via firmware - it may exacerbate the situation since it’s somewhat easier to upgrade, but the situation still exists. So you can either target the lowest common denominator, or target FL 3.1 in the hopes of driving users to upgrade. Ultimately, it comes down to whether the new features in 3.1 are crucial to your application, or would just be bells and whistles.
You can download a very thorough matrix of player capabilities from the Adobe Developer Connection. The more significant addition, from the perspective of the standalone player, is the addition of some degree of support for the BitmapData, ColorTransform, Matrix, Point, Rectangle, and Transform classes (there are other differences that would impact web browsing more than standalone apps). This little hack can be used to determine which player version is running on a particular device:
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You could either build this into a pre-loader that would serve up a specific swf, or within the app to take different actions depending on the player version.