Google I/O Pinball game showcases tools for web and phone apps

Google released a pinball game on Tuesday ahead of this week’s Google I/O Conference which is designed to show off the company’s favorite programming tools.

The pinball game is built with Flutter, a framework designed to help developers write software that will work on Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, and the web. You can try it by loading the website in a browser.

Google I/O starts on Wednesday. Expect a preview of a Pixel Watch and more details on the Android 13 software that’s already in testing.

On Android, the pinball app will ask you if you want to install it as an app on your home screen. This illustrates Google’s efforts to blur the lines between web apps and native smartphone apps that run natively on iOS or Android.

The game also uses a game engine called Flame designed to speed up game development, Google developers said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Cross-platform programming can be difficult due to interface differences, but the pinball game makes some accommodations. On a desktop browser, you use the right and left arrows to operate the flippers. On phones, you tap the left and right sides of the screen.

But factors like different screen sizes can mean misfires. When testing with Chrome on a Google Pixel 6 Proa phone with a relatively narrow screen, the rocket icon used to launch the ball is usually off the edge of the screen.