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.

iTunes Link

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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

TiPb iPhone 3.5-star rated

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Allyson Kazmucha

Help and how to editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

More Posts

 

0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...

← Previously

John Carmack and id Software release RAGE for iPhone and iPad!

Next up →

TiPb TV 1: Should you get an iPad or MacBook Air?

There are 16 comments. Add yours.

Jaydigga says:

I does not work that well for me. I've tried a few times to watch iPhone live, the video will come up but the audio is just a bunch of clicks.

francolasalsa#IM says:

Great first effort , will definitely need more updates to iron out the kinks and improve the overall product

Marco says:

The only other downside I found is that if you have multiple videos on a web page you can only view one...I tried this a couple times and could only get one video to play :(

avcr8teur says:

I have not successfully been able to get many videos to work. The ones that did work initially would crash after a few minutes. I'm hoping there will be improvements coming soon.

zero credibility says:

works well for me., not many don't work .. but its a little annoying you can't scan through the clip. If it crashes or gets stuck half way through you have to watch the whole thing again.

Brian says:

Bottom line... ios needs flash. It's so funny how all the fanboys say that flash is old tech, and nobody should be using it, but yet they are willing to flock to an app that provides some hobbled together service that gives crappy results. Apple fans never cease to amaze me. I've run into so many sites on my ipad that need flash it's not even funny. (espn 360, photo upload sites like walmart etc. just to name a couple) If apple wants the ipad to be actually useful as a pc/laptop replacement, they are going to have to support flash. Maybe apple can't figure out how to do it, so they just hide behind lame excuses.

sting7k says:

This might be the worst alternate browser I've gotten. I deleted it already. I don't even need the flash video rendering, which works poorly anyway. To top it all off it doesn't even support the retina display and looks like crap.
@Brian, it's not a laptop/desktop replacement because you need one to full operate the iPad.

arin.failing says:

@Brian... I wouldn't say it's "old" per se. It is dated in the sense that mobile platforms need a more energy efficient video solution, which H.264/HTML5 offers. And, yes, I am an Apple fanboy. Anybody who uses their mobile device as religiously as I do, needs a video playing solution that allows me to use my phone all day without having to throw it on a charger every half-hour (exaggeration... but you get the point, I hope)

Justin Bush says:

As a web browser, it's a nice alternative however, for video: 1) audio is non existent and seemingly impossible to adjust; 2) you can't forward or back up a clip ... ya gotta watch it stream. Bummer. Oh, my usage is wifi ... 3G for this application hasn't even crossed my mind!

Kenny6774 says:

This version of Skyfire has been a major disappointment....I came from Windows Mobile and Skyfire worked quite well there. I haven't been able to get a single video that I wanted to watch to play. There are two sites in particular that I wanted to have mobile access to to watch videos. BookTV.org and charlierose.com...and neither work at all. Add that with the other issues others have mentioned earlier. It only shows one vid if there are numerous vids on a page and the inability to rewind or fast forward make me want to ask Apple for my money back. Skyfire shame on you for releasing this rubbish. I expected more from you.

Stephen says:

Skyfire stinks and is certainly not worth the money they are charging for it. My advice is do not waste your time or money like I did! I give it a 1 star rating!

Allyson Kazmucha says:

I'd have to agree with most. It's a good first attempt at bridging the gap apple doesn't want to bridge, but $2.99 is a bit steep for a product that feels still in beta. Most of the reason I gave it a 3.5 stars is because I really did enjoy the "browsing" experience. I wish safari had intuitive search terms, etc... as a browser, it's functional, when it comes to viewing flash, eh. better luck next update?

Shrike says:

I'm waiting for the next update and bug fix.
Ally, how'd you control the app without touching the screen?

Stu says:

Ally, maybe it wouldn't go so slow you if you weren't recording at the same time? Also, isn't your phone jailbroken? Just saying cuz it works fine for me.

bisarma says:

Great browser for a great iPhone. 100% recommended