Saturday, March 19, 2011

Transition of Interactive Web-Content - Flash to HTML5

Vidit Bhargava

As I type this article on my iPod Touch which is attached wirelessly to my Apple Keyboard, I wonder, how many of you are actually going to read it on a "big-giant Personal Computer", Which is probably acquiring as much as a Table of your room? It is not Hidden, the fact that today, people either use their mobile phones, their iPads, or other sources of On-the Go Internet. Nobody, wants to start that large machine sitting innocently on the table, taking all the time in the world, just to show up a petty desktop screen, which by the way seems much far from an Interactive User Interface (Touted as being so, in the late 90s). They'd rather wake up their phones from the sleep to browse the internet, check their mails, visit content intensive websites or just take a tour to the App Store.

One of the things these mobile devices generally don't have is Genuine Adobe Flash compatibility. Yes, Android provides it to the users, but it is currently half baked and people generally hate it. The reason, is simple, They don't want it on a touch-screen. Flash just doesn't work, when it comes to touch-screen based content.

On the tablets, its a completely different story, iPad amounts to about 90% of Tablet Sales. It doesn't provide the users with Flash Compatibility, this means that out of millions who are using a tablet, most of them using an iPad, browse the internet without accessing millions of websites with flash content.

All this in-short makes the flash technology, which was at the pinnacle of its power before the arrival of the Post- PC devices, look slump. It is now, widely seen as Stale, premature and of a different world.

The new cool is something else. Something that is tightly integrated with the web, it doesn't require a plug-in to enter your phones, computers, laptops or tablets. HTML5!

Now, Let me make it clear, HTML5 is a programming language version of HTML, certified by W3C. And Flash is a proprietary Software for creating Interactive Web-Content. The main debate is over as to which option is better for displaying media content. Flash or HTML5? However, HTML5 implementation with CSS and Java Scripting has made it more powerful than flash over time, in displaying interactive content. And since, flash is not available for many mobile devices, developers are moving towards the HTML5 implementation of Interactive content.

Today, when you log on to your GMAIL ID, you see a cool new feature, that allows you to drag and drop files to attach them to the email. You don't know the technicalities, of course. For you its something that's coming for free, without the hassles of installing a plugin on your device. What you don't know is that the web is now, shifting its base to HTML5. Adopting the new standard.

However, in a completely opposite scenario, you go to a gaming website, start a game, only to find that flash is not supported on your device. You do not know much about the technicalities, but what you know from then onwards is, that gaming website is awful, It didn't work on your expensive gadget. The user won't wait for flash compatibility on his gadget but he'll look elsewhere, for a better experience, for a better website.

Those two instances, teach us as developers, something. The developer, must keep pace with the new standards, the new tech. So that the user has no problem using his website. It's not the gadget that is going to mould into the website, its the website that has to mould into the gadget.

Developers learnt this lesson very early last year. The result was the staggering boycott of flash content, flash video and flash games.

Major Newsgroups like CNN, BBC, NYTimes shifted their flash-based videos, and picture content to HTML5. An outright boycott of Flash Video, resulted in sites like Vimeo and Youtube adopting standards like the H.264, both the websites increased their compatibility for Mobile Devices. Slowly but eventually they made sure that HTML5 reached the PCs too. Young developers, adopted HTML5 even faster, within months, new games like the Galactic Inbox and Letter Wars came up. They were not flash, yet they were a huge success. Web-Development firms, started providing HTML5 templates. Eventually HTML5 over-shadowed flash, as the new Interactive-Web Standard. And all this was quick, within months.

The bigger challenge was web-browser compatibility. About 70% of users still used the old haggard and ragged Internet Explorer. While, Safari, Crome, Firefox and Opera provided HTML5 compatibility, these browsers have not yet reached to every computer-using soul. But this March, the world marched on to complete HTML5 compatibility, that is IE9 was launched. And Sources reveal that it reached 2.9 Million Downloads within hours.

More, evidence of the Flash demise can be seen from Adobe. Adobe Labs, announced earlier this month, the beta version of Adobe Wallaby. An AIR tool, that allows the developers to convert their Flash Content into usable HTML5 Code. Adobe has accepted defeat. They know, now that if there is any thing left for Flash, it is to be friends with HTML5.

Summary : Flash ain't the Web-Developer's most Pampered kid anymore, They've ever so happily embraced HTML5. For the user, unaware of this standard's war, is quickly getting glued to this new technology in many ways. And the most interesting part, he might not know what HTML5 is but he'll surely know that there is something different on Youtube for his iPad or that some websites just got more interactive.

But who knows in the un-foreseen future, HTML5 might be beaten red and blue with a new Web-Standard which may take over the HTML5 legacy, much faster than HTML5 took over Flash.

Sent from my iPod

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stick Cricket iOS App - Review

Ah! You see, I've been better than my word! Here's a new blog-post, in just no time!

Game : Stick Cricket
Rating : 8.6/10
Price: Free

Vidit Bhargava
You've got a paper toss game to pass your time throwing paper. You've got a game to shoot birds at pigs, you've got a game for everything but you don't have one decent game for Cricket. Well, now you've got one. Its the same one, you play while on the internet. Yes, you heard it Stick Cricket is now on iOS.

Eh Bien! For those of you who have already played it, you'd know, the game is addictive. It is super addictive. You've got no tension of bowling full length 50 overs or getting hit for runs, you just need to sit and hit sixes (with some good timing), that's it. And score as much as you can. Its Cricket, but its far more fun playing on the iPod (the iPad app hasn't arrived yet).

Gameplay: Its snappy. You've got 5 Overs to score as many runs as you can. Or you can chase down a hefty total and dominate the world world with a bunch of oldies (the likes of Jayasurya and Gavaskar).

What hampers the experience is a block! You don't get a full experience for free. After dominating three teams in the domination, you cannot dominate more "Without paying $2.99". More so, the two-player mode is disappointingly also in that $2.99 package. Then there is a whole world cup in front of you which cannot be played before upgrading. All This is free on the internet version of the game by the way.

Graphics: You don't expect great graphics from this game. Its the classic, stick-figure game. So you won't be seeing a next-generation graphic render of the Sachin Tendulkar while playing India in the all-star slog. So you see, graphics is not a forte of the Stick Cricket App.

GameCenter integration : Ok, now you've scored the runs, you paid some money, you've mastered your skills on the App, and won the world cup. Can you have competition? Oh... Yes, its the natural GameCenter integration you've got here. You can challenge your friends on the All-Star Slog to hit the maximum number of runs. You can get some wild achievements too like "Scoring a Century by one batsmen in 5 overs" or "Scoring 36 in an over" . Also, on the world stage you can compete, with the highest run-scorers. (I've not risen above the 725th Rank so far! )

Addictivity Meter: Angry Birds is addictive. Yes. Paper Toss is Addictive. Yes. But can a cricket game have so much power, to be addictive enough? The answer depends on the fact that how-much of a cricket fan "you" are. Well, I am a giant fan, in that matter. So My answer is Yes! It is as addictive than any other app in the app store.

Wrap-Up: Cricket fans will love it. The gamers will crib over the graphics. While the guys, who play for fun, will be playing it for hours until the batteries die.

iPod Touch Review

I know its coming rather late in the day, but yea, it is here:

Vidit Bhargava
Now starting with it, first of all this is my second iPod. Same memory. Bigger size and a touch-screen. The Primary question when you buy a gadget is Where does it stand in my Gadget wishlist. How do I view it? The iPod Nano is a simplistic yet eligant solution to portable music. I already have one. iPod Touch must come in Somewhere! This review of the new fourth generation iPod Touch reviews some areas where it helps and others where it doesn’t. So let me begin with the most marketed factors.

Gaming: The iPod Touch 4G with its powerful A4 chip allows for a powerful set of games. Mainly created by Gameloft (they develop the Assasins Creed for iPod) and Electronic Arts.Games like the NBA elite, NFS Hot Pursuit and FIFA 11 by Electronic Arts; Assasin’s Creed, Pro Evolution Soccer, Real Football and others by Gameloft Games and Infinity Blade (the earliest next gen game for the iPod) are some of the cool games that make the iPod a perfect NextGen Portable Gaming Console and make the iPod pose a serious threat to the likes of Nintendo DSi and Playstation Portable + You don’t have to cope with the hastle of having a CD or UMD. But My gaming has more often been concentrated with the less graphic intense but much more insanely addictive games like the Stick Cricket, Angry Birds, Star Dunk, Fruit Ninja and Tic Tac Toe. They are my favorites.

Game Center: The iPod Also has a game center. Though, not all games support it currently but iPod has a fare amount of games to challenge your friends and a have a great competition together + Games are increasingly adopting to the game center platform.

To some it all up, iPod Touch for portable gaming is a treat. It is one of the best portable gaming consoles with the best operating system and a wonderful graphics engine. Chuck your PSPs and Nintendos for the iPod Touch 4G, its a faster, snappier and cooler experience than those gaming consoles.

Music: The iPod as a music player is certainly great and that doesn’t change for the iPod Touch. It just gets better. With the powerful music UI and more imporantly the good quality of headphone listening the iPod Touch surely wins the Music Race among other touch-screen players.

iBooks: This is a place where the 3.5” touch-screen loses its touch. Reading a 3.5” Book is something that you won't want to read. At that small a screen, reading an eBook just becomes a painfull experience. You surely never want to read a book again on the iPod Touch. (iPad does that better)

Hardware: iPod Touch is paper thin, You tend to feel it will slip anytime. The screen is fine enough with a VGA camera in front for facetime. But the Real Hardware problem comes at the back. The iPod Touch still poses that abominable stainless Steel back which gets scratches on it ever so easily. It is something that no-one except Apple has a liking for. The plastic buttons are fine but still could have been better, as a matter of fact I liked the previous buttons. The Retina Display is good, but it lacks an IPS Panel. Sad.

Cameras: VGA in Front and HD recorder at back. Brilliant, but there is more to it, than what meets the eye, The Back Camera for still images is not worth it. It is not so good even for indoor or low light HD recording. VGA camera in front is surprisingly good and is suitable for FaceTime calls.

FaceTime: Facetime is something of an achievement. Users complain about the unavailability of 3G Video Calling feature for the iPhone 4 but Since the iPod’s life is based on WiFi, WiFi video calling doesn’t hurt at all. Moreover the ability to make Video Calls to a MAC, iPhone 4 and iPad 2 is just awesome. Having a facetime call with my cousins in Australia was a complete delight for both my grandma and me. FaceTime seems to go deep enough to create an emotional bond with the iPod.

Battery Life: Battery Life, frankly speaking, didn't impress me much. The iPod Touch looses battery too fast when doing some next gen gaming or watching movies.

Everything else: The iOS 4.3 is good, but still has a few rough-edges (the screen flickers sometimes). The Web-Experience is wonderful, and with Nitro-Engine thing, it is even better. The A4 as I've said before is very powerful.

Wrapping it up, the iPod Touch 4th Generation is a powerful gadget which proves to beat many serious competitors hands down. Add to that the not so exorbitant price of 15K. It is a delight to have a Portable Gaming Console, HD Recorder and iOS device at that low a price.

Rating: 8.4/10

New Rating Scale out of 10:
1 - Pathetic! I Survived it
2 - Very Bad. I want my money back!
3 - Bad, but with a few good things.
4 - Okeyish
5 - Not Bad, But Needs a lot of Improvement
6 - Good but there are many things that could have been better
7 - Nice. Value for Money
8 - Very Good. But Not Perfect
9 - Perfect but Still I'll save 1 for something better next time
10 - The best thing I've ever seen, I need nothing more! (This is virtually impossible)
P.S. You'll be reading more from me, once my exams are over i.e. 28th March