Apple is set to approve the web browsing iPhone app Skyfire for release later this week. Although other third-party web browsers exist, Skyfire is unique in that it makes playing Flash content possible on iOS devices. The app works by downloading Flash content to its servers and converting it for display in an HTML5 pop-up window on the iPhone.
Don't get too excited just yet. Sites such as Hulu won't work due to licensing concerns, and you can't play Flash games with the Skyfire browser. These functions are still limited by Apple, although the video content alone will open up vast swaths of the Internet to iOS devices that until now appeared as a blank page.
Skyfire is a complete mobile web browser, allowing mobile or desktop sites to be accessed on your iPhone by changing the user agent settings. H.264 adaptive streaming means that videos will be adjusted based on the available bandwidth after they are transcoded from Flash. The software will also adjust video processing to save battery life. Other features include private browsing, social sharing, tabbed browsing and an integrated search bar.
Skyfire will be available in the App Store on Thursday for $2.99. The app has been available for other mobile platforms, including Android devices. The company has invested $25 million in the Flash conversion engineering, and plans to offer similar services to businesses to help them bridge technology gaps with their content.Apple refuses to allow Flash to run on the iPhone, citing security concerns and other issues. Instead, the company has been pushing for HTML5 and other open standards for online video. Adobe retorts that Apple is merely protecting its proprietary App Store from competition, and arbitrarily limiting its users from opening popular Flash sites and applications on their devices.