20101103

Still no Flash for iPhone

One of the biggest drawbacks with the iPhone has always been its lack of ability to run Flash.  Flash is used to embed animation and video into web sites, and many sites use it, which means that a lot of web content is not available on iOS devices.  Apple refuses to support Flash because it uses a lot of resources and degrades performance.  This is true; I often have difficulty playing Flash videos on my old laptop.  Apple has been promoting HTML5 for playing videos, and many sites now support this, but many still do not.  I am frequently frustrated by this.

Two months ago (55440.685) Skyfire announced that they had submitted an app to the iTunes App Store which would allow viewing of Flash video on web pages.  The way it works is that they convert the Flash on their own servers and send it back to your device.  That way, you don't have to run Flash on your iPhone, but you still get the videos.  I have been eagerly waiting for the past two months for this app to get approved.  Skyfire is already one of the most popular apps on Android and other phones.  Apparently iPhones are not the only phones that have trouble with Flash.

Well, today (55503) it happened.  I bought the app for $2.99 and started browsing.  First I tried one of their suggested sites, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (even though I already watch it everyday on TV).  It wouldn't load.  Then I started browsing my news feeds, and quickly found a BBC story that had a Flash video.  It took forever to load, then I got a few seconds of an advert and it stopped.  Other attempts were also unsuccessful.  I began to suspect what the cause of the problem might be, as it happens frequently when highly desirable sites turn on or get publicized.  The servers are overloaded.

Turns out, I was exactly right.  Skyfire has removed their app from the App Store.  They state that within five hours the app had become the top grossing iPhone app and that demand far exceeded their predictions.  So now we have to wait for them to increase their capacity, which will probably take a while.  At least this time I managed to grab the app before it was pulled.  Usually by the time I learn about an app too good to be true, Apple has already pulled it, like when that kid snuck in free tethering in his app.  Hopefully as the early adopters finish playing with their new toy, the servers will start running again, in which case I am ready.

MJD 55504.050

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