Apple is causing its customers a lot of pain
in the head. The most notorious is the lack of Flash support in iOS devices.
The users have to either remove themselves completely from Web videos and
Web games, or stick to crutches like special flash browsers. Now that Steve
Jobs is dead, as well as his “thoughts on flash”, there was a hope for the
light at the end of the tunnel. But this light was shutdown by Abode – the
maker of Flash. They ceased development of Flash in favour of HTML5, which
should replace Flash technology. However, content owners are reluctant to jump
on another technology and most of them don’t maintain a specific site
for Apple devices. I personally need Flash on my iPad to watch The Daily Show,
which doesn’t have an iPad app. They offer to purchase episodes on iTunes
instead, which is ridiculous, since they are available for free on their
site. That is actually an interesting point: by not including Flash to their devices,
Apple forces customers to purchase software to enable that compatibility,
and by not making a HTML5 site, content providers force their viewers
to purchase episodes of their shows. So, having no flash is profitable.
Anyway, the Flash-enabled browsers for iOS do not actually enable flash on
your device. What they do, is convert the content on their sites from flash
to Apple-friendly format and transfer it to your device. This has quite a
few major drawbacks: first, forget about privacy as the server owners know
what you are browsing; second, you need a permanent internet connection for
that to work; and the last but not the least, the quality is awful. iOS flash video is nothing compared to desktop
video on the same bandwidth. The quality is really bad and the frame rate
is very low. Keep that in mind. Still, lets compare the three most popular
Flash-enabled browsers on the Ipad. I’m using the 3d generation ipad which has
a fast 1.5 megabit internet connection over wi-fi.
Obviously, I can’t use The Daily Show as test video for copyright issues,
so instead I’ll show a dynamic video from my Youtube channel. You may
watch it on your desktop in HD just to get the idea how it should look
like. So the worst utility so far is the Photon
browser. You open a page, and then have to press the
lightning button so it will fetch the page through their servers. It has some serious sound issues, as in most cases the lips do not sync with the
speech, and sometimes the sound skips. The picture is very grainy even
on moderate quality settings. It is impossible to watch a talk show with
Photon browser. The next program is Skyfire browser. It is
probably the most famous one. Let’s have a look.
It actually has a somewhat better performance, but the usability is worse.
It pops up a little window prompting you to play the video.
When you click on it, it starts to prepare the content, which takes like
forever. Just sit back and wait. The quality is much better and there aren’t
much sound issues. But the video seems to come in chunks, which
is indicated by the bar at the top of the screen, so you can’t just click
on the desired location of the progress bar to start video from there.
It’s a major drawback. But video performance is better. The last program is Puffin browser.
It somewhat combines the look and feel of the first – the Photon browser
with the video quality of Skyfire. This is the best performance so far, and the
progress bar is there. However, it really does skip a lot of frames, which
is visible even in static shows like interviews. But so far, Puffin is the
best way to watch flash on iPad. The funny thing is, my trustee Nokia N900
has flash support built in since it’s release in 2009 and runs web video perfectly
smooth. Nice one, Apple.