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Adobe AIR Development

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Toronto Dev Day tidbits

[ Edited ]

At the BlackBerry Developer Days 2011 event in Toronto yesterday, we learned a number of small, but sometimes quite interesting tidbits.  I'll list the ones I recall here, from my scratchy notes.  If they're not complete or entirely correct, I'll blame it on the fact that I didn't have a PlayBook in which to record my notes.  (How are you supposed to use these "pen" thingies anyway?!  Sheesh...)

 

Java stuff

Mike (Kirkup) said that they have options in exactly how they do the Java "app player" and "repackaging" stuff mentioned in the press release.  Specifically both recompilation and merely repackaging an .apk from the Dalvik bytecode contained within are options.  That doesn't actually tell me much but it's intriguing, and also suggests the whole thing is very much a work in progress and they may not know for sure exactly what they'll be doing with it.

 

SDK/sim 1.0

On the topic of the "Notifications API" (not the "push" stuff from a BB, but the thing that lets PB apps signal notifications to appear in the left corner of the system tray), he checked with the dev team and unfortunately the API for this is not expected to be in the 1.0 release of the SDK, because of "some limitations" with launching apps when you click on the notification.

 

He did however tell me that we shouldn't use the state of the pre-1.0 simulator as much of a guide for the reliability and content of the 1.0 simulator.  Not only will it apparently contain most of the functionality of the real thing (e.g. lots more of the settings menus? just assuming...), but it will contain many if not all of the apps that will be bundled in the real device.  I assume that wouldn't include some of the native stuff (e.g. the two EA games), but it sounded like much more than just the Browser would be included. 

 

He also said that they absolutely do not intend on letting the simulator languish once the hardware is available, which was one of my concerns.

 

System Tray Icons

We were able to see and confirm the meaning of several of the icons we've seen in recent videos and screenshots.

 

The arrow-pointing-into-rectangle icon that will indicate that an Over-The-Air (OTA) update to the OS is available for installation.

 

The double-rectangle (solid and hollow, one behind the other) controls "Presenter Mode" which is supported by (certain?) apps which can drive video out the HDMI port while showing something different on the PlayBook screen.  I believe it was by toggling this that Mike was able to show an HD video playing on the HDMI screen while he switched over to NFS and played it on the tablet.  (This will be an excellent feature to use if you're bored while giving your own presentation!)

 

The overlaid-rectangle icon (one representing landscape mode, one portrait mode) is used to lock the orientation.  Tap it and a popup shows up which lets you toggle locked/unlocked, and when locked a little padlock shows up inside the rectangles.

 

There was another icon that looked like a stylized torso-plus-head with a star or compass symbol on the chest, which we forgot to ask about.  @JLX theorized it represented a BBM login of some kind, though the device wasn't bridged to a BB at the time.

 

Orientation with Fixed-Orientation Apps

My long-time personal question mark about this thing, finally answered empirically by JLX and me.  Before we ran this experiment, we were fairly certain that if you swiped between a landscape-only app and a portrait-only app, the device would simply explode.

 

Miscellaneous/Other

 

The Advertising service (or at least beta APIs?) should be available for the PlayBook sometime this summer.

 

Pressing Volume Up/Down together makes a shutter noise and takes a screenshot, putting it into the Camera Roll.

 

There's an API in WebWorks called blackberry.system.hasDataCoverage() which apparently tells you if you have data connectivity.  It maps through to NetworkInfo.networkInfo.findInterfaces() on the AIR side, building up a picture of whether any of the interface's .active property is true.

 

There's a little toggle-switch at the far right on the browser's title bar which toggles full-screen mode.  (Currently it appears that a thin title bar showing just the page title stays at the top, though I hope that can be removed somehow as well so we get a true full-screen view.)

 

Among other types of "hybrid" app Mike described one possibility as being Flash UI on top of native backend code, which implies they'll open up the Flash native extensions capability once the native SDK is available.

 

The second most-used languages for App World, after English, are Spanish and Bahasa (in case you're planning to work on some translations).

 

[Edit: added notes on hasDataCoverage() and findInterfaces().]


Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!
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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

hold power button and volume down resets it, did we know that before yesterday?

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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

Thank you Peter.  My trip to the event is on Tueday.

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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

Any info about acess to the neon instructions?
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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

@thesmileman, no idea what "neon instructions" refers to... sorry.


Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!
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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

 


peter9477 wrote:

@thesmileman, no idea what "neon instructions" refers to... sorry.


 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture#Advanced_SIMD_.28NEON.29

 

They're processor instructions. I don't see why the native SDK wouldn't have access to them, the OMAP4 supports it (unlike the Tegra in many competing tablets). It's not really relevant till we get the native SDK though, AIR doesn't provide anything close to that low level.

--------
Taylor Byrnes
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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

[ Edited ]

 


taylortbb wrote:

 


peter9477 wrote:

@thesmileman, no idea what "neon instructions" refers to... sorry.


 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture#Advanced_SIMD_.28NEON.29

 

They're processor instructions. I don't see why the native SDK wouldn't have access to them, the OMAP4 supports it (unlike the Tegra in many competing tablets). It's not really relevant till we get the native SDK though, AIR doesn't provide anything close to that low level.


I certainly know what they are and how to use them. I was hoping they had information about when they were going to support them. They are often not supported as they can cause the whole OS to crash if not handled correctly as they are low level. I do a lot of development for image processing and use compiler intrinsics (including the neon instructions) often so I wanted to know if they talked if they would enable them. I would imagine they would but I would have thought they would have had C++ support by launch. Also you can get OMAP4 customized from TI in a version where they are disabled to save a tiny amount on licensing which I doubt they did but you never know.

 

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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

 


peter9477 wrote:

@thesmileman, no idea what "neon instructions" refers to... sorry.


They are vector processing units in the arm core. They allow for you to do floating point math really really fast if you are doing the same operation on lots of data. For example with images you might multiply and divide and add every pixel by the same values. This can be done extreamly fast in this units compared to the CPU core. About 6-16 times faster in my experience on other mobile arm platforms.

 

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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

@thesmileman, that sounds to me a lot like what the Pixel Bender stuff can do, though I think it runs on a GPU instead of using these "Neon (TM)" instructions on the CPU.


Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!
Developer
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Registered: ‎12-08-2010
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Re: Toronto Dev Day tidbits

Note that I edited the original post to include info about the hasDataCoverage() call and the underlying AIR calls it makes. 

 

In short, it appears it would provide an effective mechanism for determining whether a network connection exists.

 

(Note, similar to how "validating email addresses" is impossible without actually attempting to send an email, you can't verify that there is full connectivity between two endpoints without establishing a connection, so just knowing that a network interface is "up" doesn't guarantee anything... but for some apps this might be just what you want.)


Peter Hansen -- (BB10 and dev-related blog posts at http://peterhansen.ca.)
Author of White Noise and Battery Guru for BB10 and for PlayBook | Get more from your battery!