Skyfire for iPhone - app review
Skyfire for iPhone is a web browsing application that converts Adobe Flash to HTML5/H.264 so you can view it on iPhone or iPad touch. Seeing as Apple chose not to implement Flash into iOS, a lot of videos on the web still can't be watched on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Skyfire steps in to try and bridge this gap and while it's a nice feature to have, but not always the best experience.
While having access to Flash content may be useful to some, the overall process can be daunting. A lot of times, I found that the app would take a while to convert the content. If you are on wifi, the process seems to be a bit smoother, but on 3G it was definitely noticeable. I will give them a little bit of a break here seeing as they sold a ridiculous amount of copies and had to pull it due to their servers being overwhelmed. This may be part of the reason streaming is taking a while.
Either way - in my experience, once the content did stream, it seemed to be quite choppy and broken up. I'm hoping this is something that will get better as Skyfire adds more server bandwidth. A lot of the times I noticed the audio streamed pretty quickly but the video portion would struggle to keep up with the audio or fall behind. Seeing as viewing Flash content is the main feature of the app, I'm really hoping we see major improvements in the near future.
As for the rest of the app, I actually quite enjoyed using it as a browser. Settings will give you an option to browse privately, which is nice. It also gives you the option of desktop or iPhone mode. To me, this is much easier than having to toggle individual sites from mobile to desktop view. It will save you a bit of time and you can just switch with two clicks instead of searching a site to figure out how to toggle mobile views on or off.
Sharing is also easy within Skyfire - you simply click the little plus symbol in the bottom right corner of the screen and you can share directly through Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. There is also a feature called Facebook Quickview which allows you to view your Facebook profile and stream from within Skyfire. It's a nice feature but not something I really see a need for. I've never been a fan of the Facebook for iPhone app so I suppose having access to the mobile or desktop site in one click may come in handy here and there. It's still not something I see myself personally using very often.
Skyfire also has a feature that allows you to search for video and content on any term you choose. When you click the search icon, it brings up suggestions of what you may search for based on the page you're currently viewing as well. This is an extremely neat feature but sometimes it would throw out weird suggestions that had nothing to do with the site you're browsing. If this feature is refined a bit more, I could see it becoming something I'd use frequently.
Bookmarks can also be added just like they can in Safari, so you should feel right at home if you've become accustomed to using bookmarks in Safari. It would be nice if your already existing bookmarks from Safari could be imported into Skyfire. Other than that, the overall browsing experience is great. I'm just not sure the main selling feature of the app is quite up to par yet.
- Great overall browsing experience
- Adds a bit more functionality than Safari currently offers
- Toggling between desktop and mobile mode is easy and more convenient than switching on individual sites
- Flash to HTML5 converting to streaming process can be quite daunting and slow at times
- Audio and video do not always sync up after streaming to HTML5
- Experienced a few crashes on 3G while trying to convert and stream video
- Search suggestions can be a bit off at times
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