Regarding Skyfire and proxied Flash on iPhone

Skyfire Flash for iPhone

Skyfire is a browser on other mobile platforms that was at one point purely proxy-based like Opera Mini (where everything was pre-rendered on a server then pushed out to the device via compressed files) but is now an all-grown up WebKit engine where Flash content is still proxied (processed server side and sent out as iOS friendly video).

They're submitting it to the App Store -- we know because, also like Opera, they announced their intent to submit -- for iPhone and some concerned internet denizens are wondering whether or not it will get accepted, and what if anything it may mean about Apple's current stance on Flash.

Short answer: nothing.

Long answer: Skyfire for iPhone would use the built-in WebKit viewer any app could use, and would probably proxy Flash the same way Microsoft claimed they worked with Apple to serve Silverlight. That means you'll have a way to watch video, but probably not interact with punch-the-monkey adds. Win.

Why is it an apparent issue then? Because Skyfire posted about submitting it, because Apple conspiracy theorists love to conspire about theories concerning Apple, and because the App Store approval process remains utterly opaque and at times seemingly arbitrary.

Hopefully Skyfire gets approved and works well. My guess is it will get approved partly because it won't work well -- on-the-fly transcoding Flash to H.264 is a daunting task for developers (getting Flash to run native on Android is still hit and miss), and will be an exercise in patience and perseverance for users accustomed to things that just work.

We'll see.


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Regarding Skyfire and proxied Flash on iPhone


I truly don't see how it could get rejected. They've already approved a similar app (cloud browse) though clearly skyfire is more refined and runs more on the device. But otherwise, the way cloudbrowse runs flash is basically the same.

It could get rejected just because this browser app is webkit-based and not proxied like Opera. That reason alone could be why Apple approved it - method of delivery placed Opera in a different class than the native Safari app.

Ohhhhmg.. my tail is already wagging at the thought of this getting approved by Apple. It would like, revolutionize the way I do business. And by business, I mean my life.

I don't have cable at my house because I watch everything online these days. The lack of Flash integration with my iPhone has always been one of my biggest complaints. So I'm an avid supporter of anything that allows me to access more Flash videos online at a high-quality.

If Apple accepts this, does anyone think it sets a precedent about the use of Flash? My guess is they will find some reason not to accept it, at least at first! This will be interesting to watch.
Kick Butt

It could set a precedent. If Adobe decided to take this as a work around option I could see them creating an interpretor for people to run on their web servers that could convert for mobile safari users. Who knows, maybe they are already working on something like that and keeping it quite.
I already know of a company that had an issue with getting their video streamer app approved by Apple. What they did was give Apple the middle finger and then rebuilt the app using HTML5 so it could jut run over safari.

I think if it works really well they won't approve it. If it works crappy the will and then they will say. We told you so. Flash is no good for mobile.

I use Skyfire on my Droid and I love it. You can only pause it, no fast forwarding or rewinding. BTW I also have flash and so far its been a big disappointment. Websites are slow to load and what was once smooth scrolling is now choppy and slow. Skyfire isn't perfect either but its better than nothing at all.

I hope they approve it also but let's remember that when they approved opera mini ,it was pretty obvious that compared to safari it was a piece of crap !!! So I'm with Renee on this one that if it's a Home run ( like most google apps) they'll probably reject it. Personally I hope they approve it because it is a good middle ground . It is very annoying (especially on the iPad) that you still can't watch certain videos because they're flash. Love or hate Flash it is a HUGE part of the Internet and not having it on your phone is not having the FULL Internet

It's not really clear if they're using the built-in Webkit viewer or their own code. If it is using the built-in stuff then in theory there shouldn't be any reason for Apple to reject it.
On a side note, Flash Video is a container and H.264 is a codec. Flash Video can contain movies encoded in several formats and I believe H.264 has been supported since Flash 9 and has become the most popular encoding for Flash Video so for the most part it should only be a case of repacking videos so they can be played with the built-in video player rather than transcoding.
It if does get approved I imagine their servers will struggle with all the new iPhone users though.
Any word on price?

Stock browser with Flash works fine on my Evo. So does Dolphin HD. So does Skyfire. So many options. Watching the video in the post inline like its supposed to be viewed is a wonderful thing. All hit Rene.

Sure is nice to watch that video in your thread on my android device while typing this with swype.