Review: Skyfire browser; flash on your iOS device

Today was the release of the first browser that supports Adobe Flash on your iOS device. This mobile browser supports the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

UI

The user interface on Skyfire is very easy on the eyes, and gives the browser a very nice look and feel. Skyfire uses a lot of black and dark colours for the browser, which keep your focus on the actual content rather than the address and search bar.

Navigation

Browsing through webpages, searches or even adjust settings is very simple on this browser. It took me very little time to find all the settings I needed and make my way through pages. Comparing Skyfire to Opera and Safari, I have to say Skyfire is easier to use and looks better than both Opera and Safari.

There is one small complaint, and that is I wish the browsers toolbar at the bottom was customizable, as I'm used to using Safari on the iPhone, and having my bookmarks, add to bookmarks and multiple pages all mixed up makes it a little harder to get used to.

Features

Skyfire comes with a couple of new features that other browsers don't have. First is the search term. By clicking the little wavey icon on the bottom, you can search for terms, such as Neowin, which returns results for videos, trends, tweets and images. The 'all' tab takes the top search and includes it in an easy to browse view. However, not every search you perform requires a video, image or tweet, which makes this feature somewhat pointless for a lot of searches. Skyfire includes some nice features like the favicon, which actually makes the boring address bar a little more interesting.

Second new feature is the easy to toggle iPhone and desktop view. You can have your browser set on desktop view, tricking web pages into thinking your browsing on a desktop browser. This feature might be useful if some pages force you to visit the mobile site when you really need the desktop version.

        

Skyfire has a built-in view to clear history, cookies, cache and even logout of the Facebook view, something you would have to go through Settings on the iPhone for Safari.

If you've ever wondered what Safari is missing, it's default start pages. All desktop browsers have them, but why not mobile? Skyfire includes the option to set a custom URL as the default start page, blank or the Skyfire home page.

The search feature on Skyfire has some pre-set searches, one for Google web results, another for video and Wikipedia, where you can quickly and easily find pages on the site.

Skyfire comes with a quick Facebook view button, so you can open up Facebook over any page and see if there is anything new happening on your feed. The quick Facebook button opens up over your existing page and is the mobile version of the website you would normally have on http://touch.facebook.com.

Video Streaming

This is the feature why everyone is downloading Skyfire, to browse Adobe Flash on your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. So how exactly does it stack up? Well, Skyfire does a great job on the streaming video and bringing Flash to iOS, but it is something that should have been here in the first place.

          

  I couldn't get a very accurate reading on the converting and streaming video content, because the servers were flooded today, even forcing the developer to pull the app off the App Store, because it was too popular. I'm sure over time the streaming will improve and get faster, but some short two minute videos took up to 30 seconds to load.

Skyfire does a great job on notifying you of the ready content on each page, as you'll notice in the video below. I did notice there was some loss of audio, but it also could be due to the video and the iPhone 4's speakers.

Final Thoughts

Skyfire is a great little browser, and comes with a load of features that almost makes it worth it, but I still feel the price is a little too much for a browser, after all, Safari and Opera are free. Flash should have been available on all iOS devices from the beginning, so trying to justify paying for Apple's shortcomings is a little hard.

I would recommend Skyfire to anyone who wants to ditch Safari or whom ever is looking to play Flash video on their device, but I must remind you that this does not play games or any non-video flash content.


Skyfire is available (when it comes back online) on iTunes and the App Store for $2.99.

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