With the plethora of Android tablets that support Adobe AIR, there has never been a better time to be an Adobe developer. Two of the most interesting Android tablets are being developed by Sony: Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P. Combining Sony's unique form factors and features with Adobe AIR, developers can create cutting-edge applications that make use of this special hardware. If that's not enough incentive, Adobe and Sony have teamed up for the Adobe AIR App Challenge, Sponsored by Sony, where you can win more than US$100,000 in prize money.
Not only can developers win a huge chunk of money for building breakthrough applications, but this is also a great opportunity to get access to the latest technology from Sony and Adobe. The unique form factor of the Sony Tablet P device and its dual screens provide developers with a new way to display content and the chance to think about a two-screen user experience for creative interaction models. The contest will highlight the best ideas from the developer community.
The first step is to either come up with a brand new idea or use an application you’ve already built for Android or another platform for the contest. The focus will be on applications that make special use of the dual-screen form factor of the Sony Tablet P device. Adobe and Sony will select the top 80 ideas on a rolling basis to become finalists for the prize money. Being selected as a finalist means you’ll get access to the devices themselves as well as the latest tools and software from Adobe to help you build the applications.
Note: The Adobe AIR App Challenge is open to submissions from Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, and the United States. Due to the need for early access to prerelease prototypes, Sony Tablet prototypes can only be made available for developers in Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, and the United States at this time.
Every finalist will be sent both a Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P prototype tablet for four weeks to test and optimize their content and see how it runs on the new tablets. In addition, the finalists will be given extended trials of Adobe Flash Builder 4.5 and Adobe Flash Professional CS5.5, which will help for easy deployment and testing throughout the development process.
Adobe has also cooked up some special tools that will help developers make full use of the two screens on the Sony Tablet P. The finalists will get access to a special ActionScript library that can be used to detect if the device is the Sony Tablet P, and if it is, their app can target each of the screens separately so content can be optimized for both screens. The dual-screen nature of the Sony Tablet P adds a great deal of variety to the kinds of applications developers can build. You could develop something like a video chat client that uses the top screen for video and the bottom screen for sending text messages, or a mapping application that shows the map on one screen and enables you to modify or view directions on the other, or a calendar application that uses the two views to show two different date ranges. It’s an incredible opportunity to inspire other developers and be on the cutting edge.
One of the other aspects of the challenge is that developers will be given access to the latest and greatest Adobe technology. Selected finalists are given prerelease access to the latest version of the Adobe AIR runtime. Applications for the Sony Tablet can leverage AIR 2.7 or AIR 3.0, the latest version of the AIR runtime (currently available as a release candidate on Adobe Labs). AIR 3.0 includes several features that will resonate with developers. It includes the ability to ship an application with the AIR runtime as part of a captive runtime, so your applications will not longer require users to download another external version of AIR. If you choose to use this feature, it’s all bundled in a single package. AIR 3.0 also enables developers to extend the platform and reach into native APIs to expose that native functionality to their AIR applications. Any API that is supported on Android can now be exposed via ActionScript in AIR applications, including in-app payments, notifications, or device-specific features from platform to platform. This means that AIR applications will have full access to the device with no API limitations.
A variety of applications add to the entertainment options on the Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P. With access to the Android Market, you can browse thousands of useful, time-saving, and fun apps on Sony Tablet devices. To make app discovery even easier, Sony offers its Select App site, which highlights new and unique Android applications in several categories recommended for Sony Tablet. A number of applications will be spotlighted at launch with more to come in the following weeks and months.
This is also going to be a great chance to get consumer promotion for your applications. As part of the contest, Sony will be featuring some of the finalists in its Select App website, the default website with a Home screen shortcut on the tablets. Select App will be front and center to the Sony Tablet experience and will showcase the highest quality applications, providing users with quick access to the featured applications. The contest winners will be promoted in Select App, so every Sony tablet user will have the chance to easily see your app and quickly install it. The Select App feature will have compelling screenshots of your application as well as a polished and professional description to hook users.
Getting started is easy. Head over to the Adobe AIR App Challenge and submit an entry form. The contest is open to residents of the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Using the form, you can pitch your idea with screenshots, videos, or even an existing application. The most important thing is to describe how you plan to make use of the dual screens on the Sony Tablet P device. The applications will be judged on quality, performance, creativity, innovation, and overall user experience, so bring your best ideas.
Over the course of the contest, Adobe and Sony will select 80 finalists who will receive access to devices, software, and tooling. The final deadline to submit application ideas is October 10, 2011, and the deadline to upload your final application if you are selected as a finalist is November 11. Winners will be announced on November 17.
Applications will be judged across four categories, and you can submit your application to more than one category. The categories include Best Business & Productivity App, Best Game App, Best Entertainment App, and Best Lifestyle & Community App. Each category winner will receive a $20,000 prize. The judges will also select an overall winner for the grand prize of $100,000.
I can’t wait to see what the Flash community comes up with. Having tested the Sony Tablet P quite a bit, I think there will be some amazing use cases for the dual screens. Best of luck to everyone, and let’s get building.
Ryan Stewart is a platform evangelist for Adobe and has been doing Flex development for almost five years after starting out as a ColdFusion developer. He focuses on Adobe's platform technologies, including Flex, Adobe AIR, and Flash Catalyst.