Apple has given its approval to Skyfire, a web browser for the iPhone that is capable of playing Flash video. This app, which will debut on Thursday, will allow users to watch streaming video from a wide variety of web sites.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has made it clear that the iOS is not going to support Flash, and his company has instead given it full support to streaming video over HTML5. The Skyfire bridges this gap by converting Flash video into HTML5 video, which can then be played on the iPhone.
However, there are a couple of limitations. Skyfire is blocked from accessing the videos on the popular video site Hulu. And this browser handles on Flash video, not Flash-based games and other apps.
A Proxy-based Browser
Potential users of this web browser should be aware that it heavily depends on proxy servers. These take in the raw web pages, re-adapt them, and then serve lower bandwidth versions to the mobile device.
The advantage of this system is it requires less data to be sent to the smartphone, and pages often render faster. It also lets Skyfire render content not possible on the device, like Flash.
However, proxy-based browsers are also inherently less secure than standard web browsers. The Skyfire servers have access to everything that is done in a browser session.
Pricing and Availability
Skyfire 2.0 for the iPhone is going to appear on the Apple App Store on Thursday morning. It will sell for $2.99.
There is already a version of this software for the Android OS. It is currently available for free in the Android Market.