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Flash and Java combine for killer phone apps

Sony Ericsson to announce next-generation tools

Sony Ericsson is hoping to promote killer smartphone apps by enabling developers to combine the best of Java and Flash in the same applications.

Sony Ericsson plans to announce new technology today that lets developers combine Adobe's Flash Lite and Java ME into a single Java application. The combination of the two technologies allows developers to get past shortcomings in each technology, said Ulf Wretling, director of Sony Ericsson Developer World.

Java has many APIs (application programming interfaces) that let developers access phone functions like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and secure payments, while Flash lacks some of those hooks, he said. Flash, however, offers some nice user-interface capabilities compared to Java. Using both, developers can build a game, for example, that uses Flash for the menu and Java for other features. "They can mix and match," said Wretling. "A Java application can utilise graphics and UI components both from Java and from Flash."

Sony Ericsson plans to release in the second half of this year a set of APIs in its software development kit that will let developers take advantage of the capability. The resulting applications will be treated like typical Java applications within Sony Ericsson's developer platform, and also across the industry by operators that may already have a well-defined system for supporting Java applications.

"For operators and service providers it means they don't have to add anything else into their management infrastructure," said Christopher David, director of long-term platform planning at Sony Ericsson.

Sony Ericsson expects to begin supporting the platform in its phones in the second half of the year with the intention of ultimately supporting it on virtually all of its phones. It will demonstrate the technology next week at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

Ultimately, Sony Ericsson would like to share the technology with the broader community so that it could be used on other phone platforms. "We intend to make the APIs available, to publish them, but in what way, form and shape we haven't fully decided yet," said David. "But you can anticipate standards or open source or a combination thereof."

With a growing number of mobile operating systems and development platforms on the market, Sony Ericsson, like the other phone makers, will be competing for developer attention. All of the software and phone makers want to attract the best developers, who in turn want to be able to create attractive applications that can be used by a large user base.

"There is definitely competition about getting developers' mind share," said Wretling. However, if companies like Sony Ericsson can make the development environment attractive, they can help grow the number of mobile-application developers too, he said. Ultimately that benefits users, who will be able to choose from an increasing number of applications.


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