There has been a great deal written lately about the inability for the iPhone, iPod, and iPad to run Flash applications natively. It’s by design; Apple does not want to support this technology and there are lots of articles that you can read that deal with this. You can come into the conversation and jump on either side.
It’s a decision that Apple has made and, like it or hate it, it’s the rules of the game.
The losers in this scenario are people that like elements and content created in Flash. If you’re a regular reader, you may recall that I ended up changing some of my resources to remove Flash so that students and teachers can access them with their Apple portable devices.
Now, my efforts aren’t about to change the educational world. But, there are some great Flash programmers that can. Flash interactions have become the staple for modern interactions and simulations. With your Apple portable device, you’re unable to access these.
A Boston-based company, AlwaysOn Technologies has recently released a solution that may help. I know that there are lots of folks running iPod projects and this application could be a nice enhancement to their suite of applications as it allows access to applications that previously wouldn’t work.
The application is called CloudBrowse and it’s a free download from the Applications Store. When you run it, you connect to their server, and you’re access the web through Firefox on their machine. So, straight to the bottom line, Flash is run on their end and you’re running in a virtualized session. Anything that they can run, you can see. The claim is that your session is anonymous although you can create an account to save your session.
The service is free but the website does indicate that a pay service will be available with enhanced speed and performance. There is also an indication that free connections may be dropped in favour of a paid connection.
So, how does it work? I decided to give it a run with one of my favourite Flash based educational applications that is unavailable through current settings – Neave’s Planetarium.
It worked like a champ.
I went to Neave’s home page and pinched and expanded so that I could see the menu. I quickly located the Planetarium link and loaded the application. Instead of the familiar, “Upgrade your Flash” message, I was there and running the web application. Using my finger, I was able to flick around the heavens and observe the stars and constellation shapes. I’m very excited now.
As I explore, I quickly realize the power of the applications is actually greatly enhanced by finger navigation over mouse! But, with the small screen, can I click on an element to get its details? Absolutely! The toughest part was arranging fingers to do the screen capture.
The application features on screen manipulation with easily identified icons as you see above. Clicking the information icon lets you create an account, if you wish. There are also instructions for onscreen manipulation of the objects. The application supports Flick, Single Tap, Double Tap, Pinch Zoom, Two Finger Tap, Touch and Hold and Tap and Hold.
I was very impressed with the ease of working through the application. There’s no doubt that you’re going through their server as there are lags in response at time but overall the performance was quite acceptable. Even direct internet connections enjoy these annoyances at times.
Speaking of internet connections, the service also served as a proxy with a US IP address. I was able to access a video resource that would normally have been blocked by going through conventional channels with my Canadian IP address. I’m not a big video fan so it was basically a proof of concept for me.
An application like this will be welcomed well in education in classes where their Apple portable devices are limited by access to interactive applications. Since you’re not actually installing anything new onto your device or jailbreaking it, your warranty should stay intact! Virtualized services are everywhere these days. This application adds nice, additional functionality to your experience. It’s well worth the download.