Flash, Flashlite, SVG and Java

Flash is a huge success on the web. It’s been like that for a long time now.

SVG is a recommendation (read standard) by the W3C that should address some of the functionalities of Flash.

While Flash Lite has been very successful in Japan for many years (and I think simply because DoCoMo decided it would be the default on all devices), it has struggled in the rest of the world.

In the last couple of years Nokia, Sony Ericsson and other top vendors have more or less quietly implemented SVG Tiny (a subset of SVG for mobile devices). From my perspective it seemed like SVG would take over Flash (Lite) in the mobile space, but it looks Adobe is moving to make sure this does not happen.

A few news that I’ve read in the last couple of weeks, all within just a few days:

"Over the Air" event in London

Make sure you note these dates on your calendar. On April 4-5 there will be a very exciting event in London called “Over the Air“. We are all mobile mammals (read fans and addicts) and this event is really the place to be: the topics will be anything that has to do with services provided over the air. It will not be limited to browsing, one of the most common topics of dotMobi, there will also be Android, iPhone web apps and native apps, J2ME and more.

If you are in London it’s a must, if you are not, it’s probably worth to start looking for a flight and a hotel.

I will be talking about DeviceAtlas, of course.

See you there.

MovaMessenger Review

MovaMessenger is a multi-protocol IM client for your mobile, developed using J2ME, which means that it will run on most mobile devices. MovaMessenger was developed by MovaFone, the same company that did MovaMail, so the general layout is very similar.

First off I went on the website, read that it supports most IM-protocols and started wondering about how it works. Is it based on Jabber? Is it using libpurple? I don’t know, unfortunately (maybe I should sniff some TCP connections on the mobile…).
On the site I could decide if I wanted to download directly or subscribe online. I decide to register and this has been a good idea as I could define one service account immediately from the web, much more comfortable than using the phone keyboard. Once defined login, password, my phone number (what do they need it for?) and setting up one account (AIM) I was presented with a URL to type in the phone and download my personalized version.
I would have liked to be able to define all the protocols from the registration. Also, since I provided my phone number (in international format, of course!), I would have liked to receive a wappush to download the JAR and not type it manually. Not a very long URL, but still a wappush would have been nicer.

I downloaded the application, 137KB, it took just a couple of minutes and I was ready to go. After downloading and starting the application I saw a short explanation message and then was asked to create an account… Hmm… I thought I had defined everything from the website. Anyway, I typed in everything and of course it said the account already existed. I chose to go to the main menu and not try to provide new parameters. Once in the main menu I could pick “Login”, account and password were already there and I logged in. Once logged in the AIM account was already there, configured. I added ICQ and MSN profiles. It took a bit to login, but eventually I was online and my buddies started popping up.
Scrolling up and down seems sometimes a bit slow, but I’m not sure it’s MovaMessenger’s fault or rather my W810i’s slow CPU. I should probably test on some other device. Keeping the up or down key pressed jumps to either the top or the bottom of the list. I have to say that I also instinctively tried to scroll pages up and down using “left” and “right” keys as in Opera Mini, but that actually zoomed on the current buddy.

Chatting with friends is as easy as you’d expect it, pick a user from your list, click on “Chat” and start typing. On my W810i, the “chat” button is on the right softkey, I would have expected it to be on the middle button of the phone (the one in the middle of the 4 directional arrows). The chat menu opens a window where you see your last messages and can type new ones (of course!). Standard emoticons are automatically converted into icons, the others are shown as they were typed in. Quite acceptable from a multi-protocol client that also runs on a low-power, slow-network device.
The left softkey lets me access the options menu where I can “set Status”, “invite Buddy”, configure “Services” or make changes on the selected buddy such as renaming.
Clicking the middle button on my W810i opens a popup where I can configure the phone number of the remote buddy. I can either type it manually or pick it up from the addressbook. Once set I can press a button to start a call. I don’t see the use of it, right now, but maybe some day I’ll need it.

Every time I’m idling and I receive a new message, the phone vibrates. Nice.
Users who sent you a message get a little message bubble next to their name. It’s a bit slow to scroll up and down searching for the sender’s name. This could be improved, maybe popping them up or having a quick menu item from the Chat window.

A bit annoying that every time I open a chat with someone, the remote user receives the following “advertisement”:

“Hello, I’m now using MovaMessenger on my mobile phone to talk to you. If you’d like to chat from your mobile phone you can get MovaMessenger for free at http://www.movamessenger.com”

The application seems solid, even if I have used it for only a few hours.
I can’t check my data traffic in real-time, unfortunately, but I’m sure I’ll see a spike in my next bill. IM on the phone is certainly VERY interesting, but I need a flatrate for data, before I can consider it for full time usage.
Also, being a Java app (not MovaFone’s issue, of course) doesn’t make it entirely integrated with my phone in the sense that I either open it and keep it running, OR put it to sleep. Would be great to have it running in the background, maybe Sun and OMA should think about this seriously.

Sun’s Mobility Pack uses WURFL

According to Lukas Hasik, Sun’s Mobility Pack 6.0 now uses WURFL to determine device capabilities. Lukas wrote about the new release of Mobility Pack citing that many developers wanted to get more information about devices. Thanks to WURFL they are now able to dig in and see device information.

Mobility Pack 6.0 is still under development, there’s a page to read the updates, Mobility Pack New and Noteworthy.
Mobility Pack is part of NetBeans.

J2ME Guide – Part 1

Massimo Carli recently published a book about J2ME. The book is in Italian, but the good news is that it’s also available online for free. I had also put a link here on the right column, but I’ll take this chance to link it again, here.

Massimo has done another step further and published the first part in English on a friendly site. If you are considering to approach J2ME development and you’re a J2SE developer this is a very good starting point.

J2ME Guide – Part 1