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Smokescreen brings Flash to the iPhone

Slow is better than nothing

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A new software bundle called Smokescreen promises to bring Flash animations and interactivity to the iPad and iPhone by converting them into JavaScript on the fly.

Smokescreen is entirely written in JavaScript, and once running it downloads the Flash SWF file, decompresses and interprets it, then renders without recourse to any plug-in or Adobe product. The execution speed is slow and the existing demonstrations are restricted to basic animations, but it does work.

All that's available right now is a selection of animated advertisements, including ones for Microsoft and the Batman computer game, which demonstrate that the concept works but aren't exactly pushing the boundaries of what's possible in Flash.

But then such advertisements make up the bulk of Flash content on the internet, and if Smokesceen can't replicate the interactivity of Farmville then everyone could be a winner: Apple preserves its application revenue stream while advertisers get to show animated adverts without mucking about with HTML. But that's forgetting that Apple has plans for its own advertising revenue stream compete with interactive animations, so even making basic animations work risks annoying Cupertino.

Not that Smokescreen cares - its technology is entirely in JavaScript, so it's beyond the control of even Steve Jobs. The company promises to open source the whole thing at some point soon, making money from technical support and related services.

With basic animated content the technology works, but success will depend on how well it performs with more complicated applications, and on how Adobe feels about the whole thing. ®

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