Apple Approves App That Streams Flash To iOS Users

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Apple has approved an app that will finally allow Flash videos to run on iOS devices

Apple has approved an app that will finally allow millions of Apple users using iOS-based devices (such as the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch) to watch Flash videos.

Apple is of course a major supporter of HTML5, and it is no secret that CEO Steve Jobs in particular is openly hostile to the Adobe Flash format. Jobs reportedly called Adobe’s Flash a dying technology in a meeting with Wall Street Journal executives in February, saying that it was buggy, a “CPU hog”, and an entry way for security issues.

And then in an open letter in April, Jobs wrote that Adobe Flash is “the number one reason Macs crash”. Furthermore, he added, “We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.”

Converted To HTML5

And then last month it was revealed that the new MacBook Air notebooks were shipping without Flash pre-installed, requiring owners to manually download the plug-in instead.

But now Apple has formally approved a web browser app that can be downloaded from the Apple store. The browser is produced by Skyfire, and it will allow an iPhone, iPad, or Touch user to run Flash based content.

According to CNN, when users click on a page that contains Flash video, Skyfire’s servers download, render and translate the video into HTML5, which is a web standard that iOS devices can support. Skyfire then displays a thumbnail that users can click on to stream the video from its servers.

“We will attack those pesky blue Flash error messages,” Skyfire’s CEO Jeffrey Glueck told CNN.

The app will be available for download from Thursday for $2.99 (£1.86).

While Apple has slightly eased its restrictions on the kind of applications that can be approved for its App Store, Apple still does not support content encoded in Adobe’s Flash for its iOS devices.

This is not the first time that attempts have been made to allow Apple users to access Flash content. In July, a developer by the name of Comex ported the plug-in of Adobe’s Flash for Android-based devices, so that it worked on the iPad, and cheekily called the program “Frash”.

However this is the first time an officially approved app, available from the Apple store, will allow Flash content to be displayed on iOS devices, albeit it in a roundabout route.

Adobe Frustration

Adobe for its part has reportedly considered suing Apple over the issue. Indeed, the issue has also provoked the public ire of Adobe’s CEO, Shantanu Narayen. Adobe also launched an ad campaign which blasted Apple for its closed approach regarding developer licensing.

Adobe’s frustrations were eloquently expressed by Lee Brimelow, an Adobe platform evangelist, who earlier this year wrote the following blunt advice for Apple on his personal website, The Flash Blog. “Speaking purely for myself, I would look to make it clear what is going through my mind at the moment. Go screw yourself Apple.”

It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of online video is encoded in Flash, although websites such as YouTube encodes its videos in multiple formats, including Flash and HTML5.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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