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Tuesday, November 02, 2010, 05:50 am PT (08:50 am ET)

Skyfire iOS browser approved by Apple, converts Flash video to HTML5

A new Apple-approved iPhone and iPad mobile browser from a startup company, set to launch this week, converts video from Adobe Flash to HTML5, though it won't work with Hulu.

The new Skyfire browser will be available for download at 9 a.m. Eastern on Thursday for $2.99 from the App Store, and will convert Flash video to HTML5 for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users. It was profiled Tuesday by CNNMoney.com, which noted the browser won't work with Flash-based games, or popular TV streaming site Hulu.

The Skyfire browser already brought similar functionality earlier this year to Google's Android platform. Skyfire 2.0, launched in May 2010, has more than 1.5 million downloads on handsets running Google's mobile operating system.

"Like the Android version, Skyfire for iOS isn't a standalone application, but rather a tool that works on top of Apple's Safari Web browser," the report said. "As a result, the company said the app was given a rather rigorous review from Apple, but it was approved in less than two months. Apple did not return a request for comment on why it approved Skyfire for its App Store."

The application gets around Apple's ban of Adobe Flash by having Skyfire's servers download Flash video and convert it to HTML5. When a user visits a page with Flash, they see a selectable thumbnail which then allows the content to be streamed directly to the iOS device, negating the need for Flash.

Because games require interactivity, the service won't work with them. And Hulu has apparently actively blocked Skyfire, as the TV streaming service requires users to pay $10 per month for access via its native Hulu Plus application.


As Flash has been banned from Apple's iOS devices, and had a limited presence so far on Android handsets, many websites have begun to offer content in both Flash and HTML5, to ensure compatibility with mobile browsers. One recent study found that more than half of all Web video is available in HTML5.

Apple's opposition to Flash has caused a rift between it and Adobe. Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs made waves in April, when he published an open letter on Flash, suggesting the Web technology is unfit for the modern era of mobile browsers.