Apple Lets Flash in Through the Backdoor

by Jeff Wiener on November 4, 2010

Despite the fact that nearly 75% of online videos are encoded with Flash software, Apple has continued to refuse to allow the popular program to run on any of its devices. Many of us in the tech and telecom world, even unabashed Apple supporters like myself, have long questioned Apple’s reasoning behind this, as blocking Flash seems more like petty schoolyard bullying instead of sound technological business decision making.

But it now looks like things are changing, as reports indicate that Apple may have changed its mind towards Flash…sort of. While Apple has still firmly barred the door into its popular App Store for Flash, it seems that Steve Jobs and Co. have instead opened a window, approving a useful little piece of application technology called Skyfire.

While Flash will still technically be banned from Apple devices, the beauty of Skyfire is that it is able to convert videos encoding with Flash into HTML5 coding on the fly, allowing Flash videos to run freely on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. But if you’re opening the door to a program like Skyfire, why keep it closed to Flash?

The details of how Skyfire works are relatively simple. It uses its own servers to translate content from Flash into HTML5, essentially making it a middle man between Flash content and your Apple device. While there are one or two extra steps involved—such as clicking on the resultant HTML5 thumbnail generated from Skyfire’s servers to view video—it seems like a functional solution to this ongoing problem. Further, with Skyfire available at the very affordable price of $2.99, why wouldn’t Apple customers utilize this helpful app to get the most out of their mobile browsing experience?

Back as you might expect, this stopgap solution to viewing Flash technology is not exactly what you would call fleet-of-foot. Adding Skyfire in as a middle man in the streaming video process does indeed slow the entire process down, meaning that loading some content and video rich websites will make you think you’re back in the agonizingly slow days of dialup Internet. That being said, if you want to view Flash content on your Apple device, Skyfire is a definite must-have.

Beyond the fact that Apple seems to be letting Flash onto its devices through the backdoor, I still have to question why the popular tech company is keeping its Flash embargo going at all. Sure we’ve all heard Steve Jobs talk about the future of HTML5 and the slow demise of Flash—which perhaps explains why Apple would favour something that translated Flash into HTML5—but the simple fact remains, Flash is everywhere and without it the Internet experience of Apple users is often truncated and incomplete.

While I will agree that HTML5 is probably the next generation of web video encoding, with Flash being the present reality Apple isn’t doing its loyal customer base any favours by continuing to exclude it. Sure applications like Skyfire circumvent the problem in their own way, but with incredibly slow streaming video, it doesn’t strike me as the best solution available. So with that I’ll say, come on Apple, give us Flash!

{ 2 trackbacks }

SkyFire Overwhelms Apple’s AppStore: Need Anymore Evidence that People want Flash? —
August 14, 2012 at 5:45 am
There's An App Store For That! —
August 14, 2012 at 5:48 am

{ 1 comment }

Kristen Stewart Fan November 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Apple should have included flash player in Safari

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: