Google I/O Pinball Game Shows Off Tools for Web, Phone Apps

Google published a pinball game Tuesday ahead of this week’s Google I/O conference that’s geared to show off the company’s favorite programming tools.

The pinball game is made with Flutter, a framework geared 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 begins Wednesday. Expect a peek at a Pixel Watch and more details on the Android 13 software that’s already in testing.

On Android, the pinball app will ask if you want to install it as an app on your home screen. That illustrates Google’s effort to blur the boundaries 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 Tuesday.

Cross-platform programming can be tough because of interface differences, but the pinball game makes some accommodations. On a desktop browser, you use 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 hiccups. In one test with Chrome on a Google Pixel 6 Pro, a phone with a relatively narrow screen, the rocket icon used to launch the ball is mostly off the edge of the screen.