Remember iSwifter and its impressive capabilities in terms of bringing Flash to the iPad? That same cloud-based technology has gone one step further now, with news coming out of GDC, that the firm will now be offering a licensing program for PC-based gaming applications to be streamed to iOS devices.
As co-founder of iSwifter, Rajat Gupta, explains "It is virtually impossible for developers to bring PC games to mobile as quickly as we can through our lowest cost streaming cloud service, and to provide a native-like user experience with automatic enablement of touch gestures," so this is potentially huge news for iOS device owners. The lofty ambition, according to co-founder and Chairman, Peter Relan, is to "do to applications what Netflix™ did for movies."
As always, we'll keep up to date on the latest progress with such a move. While waiting for companies to embrace this concept, why not check out the current iSwifter app?
Having grown up in a household of educators and now with numerous friends who teach, I've quickly learnt the importance of educating students in new and exciting ways. It keeps information interesting and relevant rather than becoming potentially stuffy and staid.
There are numerous ways to ensure this but one of the latest and most exciting ways is that of Rover from iSwifter.
Rover provides cloud-based streaming through iSwifter's technology, enabling iPads to stream Flash content alongside other useful education tools. Free to download, it's targeted towards the K-12 education sector having partnered with education brands such as Discovery Education, Mathletics and Funbrain. Partnering with such brands immediately makes Rover an immensely useful resource of offering both fun and knowledge without the child even realising how much they are learning.
Fundamentally, it means that children can use a classroom iPad to access such content rather than be restricted to the PC.
The app is easy to set up and offers a firewall-friendly solution to work around existing IT systems in schools while still maintaining the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). It is worth mentioning that a Wi-Fi connection is required to use Rover even for those with 3G iPads. It's a small requirement, however, for an immensely useful educational tool.
Using the app is similarly easy to get to grips with thanks to digital textbook controls including a D-Pad, visual feedback for finger taps and support for a split keyboard form of control. Rover can even be paired with SMART board interactive whiteboards for added functionality. Each cross section of schooling is viewable separately from Elementary School to Middle and High School.
With increasing numbers of teachers using iPads within the classroom environment, Rover ensures that children have the best tools to learn with and in a fun and safe environment, too.
Rover is available now for the iPad and it's free to download.
In a surprising move that brings us two different Flash-enabled browsers in the span of less than a week, iSwifter has launched their browser on the iPad. While at first glimpse it may seem that Apple has relented on its insistence that Flash not appear on iOS devices, the truth is a bit more complicated than all that.
First off, while iSwifter supports Flash, it doesn't support all Flash content found on the web. Rather, only portals such as Ted Talks, Muzu.TV, Jambo Media, Green TV, All Things Science, Yahoo Blogs, WatchDoIt and Ignite Show. SkyFire, on the other hand, will convert any Flash video to HTML5 so that it can be displayed on an iOS device. Thus, while iSwifter will save you possible bugs and glitches from format conversion, it's still not a magic bullet to get access to all the Flash content floating around out there.
In addition iSwifter also allows access to thousands of Flash-based games which otherwise might be walled-off from consumers. The ability to play Flash games on an iOS device is hidden via smoke and mirrors, where the game is actually hosted on iSwifter's servers and players are merely streaming it from that point. It's a similar setup to the OnLive cloud-based gaming service, just on a smaller scale.
It's also important to note that the app is currently only available for iPad. While the company plans to launch an iPhone/iPod version soon, they aren't yet ready to announce a release date.
While apps like iSwifter and Skyfire are helping folks slowly work around the iOS prohibition on Flash we won't be able to truly put this issue to bed until Apple and Adobe kiss and make up. Perhaps someday users won't have to utilize a workaround just to get access to otherwise freely available content, but until that day we continue to engineer solutions to problems that probably shouldn't exist in the first place.
For better or worse, Apple's App Store submission policies became much more lax last week. In Apple's own words, "In particular, we are relaxing all restrictions on the development tools used to create iOS apps, as long as the resulting apps do not download any code. This should give developers the flexibility they want, while preserving the security we need."
So while Apple's policy on using Flash to make a game hasn't changed, they are allowing streaming Flash and code conversion technologies that will let Flash games run on the iOS.
After just a few days of development, given that the announcement was only seven short days ago, iSwifter, from Peter Relan's YouWeb, is launching today. iSwifter is using cloud computing to stream various Flash portals, such as Kongregate, Yahoo! Games, and AOL Games, to your iDevice, unaltered.
"iSwifter represents a game-changer for smaller Flash game developers that don't have the resources to port their games to multiple mobile platforms like iOS and Android," says Net Jacobsson, a former Facebook executive, advisor to King.com, and founder & CEO of Playhopper, a Flash-based social gaming start-up.
The big question here is what this means for fans of the App Store. You can really look at it one of two ways, one being extremely optimistic and one being, well, Apple's stance.
If everything works out for streaming services like iSwifter, gamers could enter a sort of renaissance of free gaming options. I'm not exactly sure how the online services will work within things like, say, Yahoo! Games, but I would be pretty happy to play Yahoo! Pool in some of my downtime. Sure, Flash games can be silly, but there are a ton of them out there, and many of them are far better than some of the free offerings in the App Store.
Take Johnny Two Shoes (Plunderland) for example. As much as I love Plunderland, I think I spent more time playing their Flash title, Heist 2, than I'll ever spend on their hit App Store title. Nothing against their iPhone games, but they were originally a Flash game outfit, and they made some quality titles.
The down side of all this is highlighted in a John Gruber quote on Daring Fireball. "As for Flash games, isn’t it utterly obvious that existing Flash games, which work via keyboard and mouse, wouldn’t work at all on devices which lack both keyboard and mouse?"
Regardless of technical limitations, be sure to check out the iSwifter video below. It further explains the mission of the app, and shows a live demo of iSwifter playing Screw the Nut, "one of Kongregate's biggest games," on the iPad.