How to watch Flash videos on your new iPad

How to watch Flash videos on your new iPad

Trying to figure out how to watch Flash videos on your new iPad? Unfortunately, Apple has never supported the Adobe Flash Player plugin (or any web browser plugin) for a number of stability, security, and other reasons, and Adobe has recently discontinued their attempts to get Flash to work properly on mobile devices in general. (It was designed for big, powerful computers, not highly portable, low power phones and tablets.)

But all hope is not lost! There are still a variety of ways to watch Flash videos on your iPad. (Some of these also work for Microsoft Silverlight content, like Netflix.com!)

The HTML5 alternative for Flash on the iPad

Many popular video sites have HTML5/H.264 versions of their videos ready and waiting for your new iPad

Many websites that use Flash on your Mac or Windows PC offer the exact same video in HTML5/H.264 format for your iPad. YouTube.com is the biggest example. Go there on your PC and you get Flash, go there on your iPad and you get HTML5/H.264. It "just works". The same is true for many other sites as well, from popular video sharing channels to adult entertainment.

Before you try anything else, simply try going to the website in Safari. And if it doesn't work automatically, look for link for "Mobile version" or "iPhone/iPad optimized", use it.

The App Store alternative for Flash on the iPad

Instead of converting their videos to HTML5 on the web, some sites have chosen to offer apps instead. For example, if you want to watch the streaming video for our iPhone & iPad Live podcast on your Mac or Windows PC, you're watching it in Flash at Ustream.com. If you want to watch it on your iPad, you simply download the Ustream app from the App Store and you're good to go. Same for Netflix, Hulu+, and many, many others.

Likewise, a lot of popular Flash games have versions of the same game in the App Store, ready for you to play with full native graphics and performance. Most of the time they'll even sync back to the same games you're playing on Facebook or Google+.

If a Flash video or game won't play in Safari, go to the App Store and search for the name of the website or the name of the game. Often they'll have an app for that.

The proxy browser alternative for Flash on the iPad

Instead of trying to render Flash video on the iPad, there are a few alternative web browsers on the App Store that render Flash on their own servers, then convert it to HTML5/H.264 video and stream it live to your iPad. Generally, you tap the Flash video you want to watch, it takes a few moments to start processing in the cloud, and then the video starts to play.

It doesn't work 100% of the time, and only works with Flash video, and not interactive Flash apps or games, but it does work for a large percentage of content not yet converted for the iPad.

There are a few different alternatives.

Skyfire is great for general-purposed browsing.

$4.99 - Download now

iSwifter builds in a lot of popular online games.

Free - Download now

The VNC remote-computing alternative for Flash on the iPad

Screens 2.0 review: The best designed, easiest to use VNC app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac

This is the nuclear option, but it's still an option. If you really need to access a full Flash site on your iPad, one way to do it is to establish a remote VNC connection to your laptop or desktop Mac or Windows PC. The only drawback, and it might be a deal-breaker for things like listening to music or videos, is that there's no sound -- only video. And, if your connection isn't good, even the video can be choppy.

If you really need it, though, there are a lot of great apps for this. Our current favorite is Screens.

$19.99 - Download now

If you have any other ways, or if you like a certain way better, to watch Flash content on your new iPad, let us know!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 43 comments. Add yours.

ShAdOwXpR says:

Download iSwiffter app, you will be able to play any flash game and flash web site video. EVERY ONE of them as in any PC. Just 4.99$...

From Crackberry says:

Step one- get a playbook
Step two- open the browser
Step three- view any website as it was intended
Quite simple really...

iCat3GS says:

Hahahahahaha... That WAS a joke right? My boss bought the playbook... It's the least useful pad on the market... They don't even have Netflix!!

TheYo says:

Cool story, bro.
$200 PlayBook with Android apps >>>> iPad 3

Rayman2170 says:

^ what he said. iSwifter is great for flash games, or for any flash only websites.

flyingember says:

why would I want to? I have yet to find content I want to see that requires flash on my ipad.

devicediva says:

I have Adobe Flash on my Android and it works awesome. so don't say "it was designed for big, powerful computers, not highly portable, low power phones and tablets"

DannyJJK says:

It is designed for powerful computers. You'll probably find your android device is practically a computer since it has a dual core processor. But that doesn't deter you from the matter of battery life. Try playing angry birds on your phone, see how much battery you lose. Then try playing a flash game, it'll drain much more battery because the CPU will be maxed out. You'll also find that flash will never run as smooth as an app or html5

johncblandii says:

I don't care to go back and forth but there is sooo much wrong with your comment.
1) Flash mobile has GPU rendering for animations, especially 3D, and video
2) HTML5 is not inherently more performant than Flash: http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2010/05/10/top-flash-misperceptions-fla.... That's 2 years old but still relevant as HTML5 Canvas hasn't had much in the way of speed improvements compared to Flash's continuous improvements. You can see an interactive experts results of HTML5 rendering here as well: https://plus.google.com/111971493588974288901/posts/ARX5K8LmNbt.
Again, I don't want to go back and forth but your comment definitely speaks in absolutes that aren't correct. Nothing personal. :)

iSRS says:

Not to mention, isn't that basically what Adobe said?

tuscanidream says:

Flash is horrible on the Mac... And andriod has more bugs than an ant farm. I don't know what your thinking man.
Let's support h264, not find ways to keep using it!

Kenji O. says:

Photon seems to get a lot of love in the AppStore and is actually higher ranked than SkyFire. Any thoughts on it?

Lui says:

I use photon. Works decent for watching the daily show(with sound), and renders the interactive flash content for my school work.

johncblandii says:

Sigh. [licks "Flash on mobile" battle wounds]. lol
Now that I'm spending more time on iOS [again], I am seeing the majority of the Flash content is available in HTML5 [via web] or through an app.

jockopablo says:

Which of these solutions, if any, works with Amazon VOD?

Justin says:

Another alternative is to download OnLive Desktop for free and stream your flash through IE.

dloveprod says:

I don't even like flash on my desktops, its so buggy and slow.

hopkins569#IM says:

@kenji jo. Photon is great Ii use photon for my flash browsing on my ipad and iphone and have no complaints

Russian45 says:

Iswifter is the best don't waste time with Skyfire.

Brian says:

I love how you apple fan boys defend not having flash, just because apple tells you it's bad, you sheep fall in line and agree. BTW flash runs fantastic on my obsolete HP touchpad, my wife often borrows it when she can't view a website on her ipad. If your stance is "I have yet to find content I want to see that requires flash on my ipad" Then you don't use your tablet very much, I visit flash websites every time I use my Touchpad. Get over yourselves, flash is still a large part of the internet, apple tried to kill it too fast and is suckering you into believing them.

Justin says:

I've owned and used flash on a touchpad. I'm not sure exactly what I'd call the experience, but it certainly wouldn't be "fantastic".
There's a reason even Adobe has abandoned mobile flash. It just doesn't work.

Msk says:

LogMeIn Ignition streams sound and video from your computer but it costs $20. Have to install free client on your computer first.

DARK_BLU says:

Photon Browser and vBrowsePro. $5. Been watching Flash content on my iPhone 4S since last year with Photon and this year on my iPad 2 with Photon and vBrowsePro with no problems. Easy Greezy.

Melanie Calwell says:

I've been doing some core spinning too and really think it's a great way to make yarn.

Jimmy says:

I suggest puffin. Can't play games but videos render well in full screen mode.

David Gerlach says:

Adobe Flash works just fine on my Blackberry Playbook....

menopause estrogen says:

I think it depends both on your physical health and family history.

paulthefencer says:

The app iSwifter is okay, but you have to pay for it. I use sky fire it's a great app and works every time for flash videos

Mi Gigler says:

It's the first time when i've seen your site. I can understand lots of hard work has gone in to it. It's really good.

HDTV says:

Nevin John, on 13 March 2012 06:59 PM, said:

Kiara Faught says:

I think it's a very good web design example! So many lovely small details! Very nice!

Darren says:

I have an ipad2 and a playbook. I use the playbook for web browsing so I can see the entire web. I hate browsing on ipad2, but it's good for other tasks. Playbook is a bit more smooth and I can put it in my coat. Ipad is great for the sofa. I like both tablets. Haven't seen an Android one that is smooth yet. Playbook gets the most use.

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think gamers are particularly prone to viruses and spyware says:

Just how can browser redirects operate? Are these really a virus or does someone physically edit a record on your pc to redirect the browser to an alternative website? I'm just not technical enough to know how one could make this happen with a virus. Do you know of any thoughts?

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Adrienne Quihuiz says:

I can't stop playing Angry Birdsssssss, plz help me !!!

kaki4125 says:

Still you could watch the flash videos downloaded from YouTube or Hulu on iPad------iFunia iPad Video Converter could convert flash videos (*.flv, *.f4v) to H.264 or MPEG-4 encoded videos that are compatible with iPad.

Thax E Alexander says:

The I swifter is kind of slow compared to Safari, but does work. If you love iPad, then this is the way to go until Flash gets phased out. Good site. Good blog!