Ina Fried

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Start-Up iSwifter Brings Flash Games and More to the iPad (Video)

Just because Apple doesn’t support Flash on the iPad doesn’t mean one can’t get Flash content running on the iPad.

At least it doesn’t mean that any more, thanks to a startup called iSwifter. The iPad app works by running a browsing session on its servers and streaming the results to the iPad. Skyfire has offered a similar option, but only for Flash videos and its performance had some issues.

There are a few caveats with iSwifter as well. First, for now, the iSwifter app for the iPad only works with a Wi-Fi connection, though the company demonstrated it working over 3G as well. It could also run on all manner of other devices, including Android. Though Android supports Flash, the demo I saw showed iSwifter far outpacing the Motorola Xoom, at least when connected to a strong Wi-Fi signal. Also, all your information is going through their servers, so you have to be comfortable with that.

For now, iSwifter is a free download, though users are asked to pay $2.99 from within the app if they use it more than a little. Over time, though, the company wants to make iSwifter a subscription service, given there are real, ongoing costs involved in running browsing sessions on its hardware.

So far, only one site–Hulu–is actively blocking iSwifter’s servers. The company said users could probably find away around the block, but said it has better things to do than pick a fight. Until the block, Hulu had been a popular destination for iSwifter users.

However, far and away the biggest destination for users is Facebook, because most of the games designed for the social network site don’t run on the iPad.

Although the current iPad app is centered around delivering Flash to the iPad, iSwifter’s Rajat Gupta said that company is also looking at other potential uses for the Web streaming technology, such as in the corporate and education markets.

The story also has a personal component for me. My partner, AJ, is addicted to this Flash-based Facebook game called SuperPoke Pets. Every time a new tablet comes into the house, the first question I am always asked is can it play SuperPoke Pets.

Until I learned about iSwifter, the answer had always been no. Even the Android devices that have claimed Flash support–up to and including the Xoom running Flash 10.2 beta–have all choked while trying to display AJ’s beloved penguin, Snowflake.

Although feeding and cleaning Snowflake with iSwifter isn’t super speedy, it is certainly manageable. Now, I just need an answer to AJ’s other iPad question–When will it come in colors?

Here’s a quick video with Rajat Gupta:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work