Long gone are the days where Apple’s app review team inexplicably rejected apps out of hand for what were often spurious reasons. Facing growing competition from a consortium of Android handsets, and perhaps in an effort to stave off federal investigators, Apple recently relaxed its app store policies in a number of tangible ways.
With that in mind, Apple earlier this week approved an app that would have never been accepted into iTunes even 3 months ago. This past Wednesday, Apple approved a web browser app named Skyfire which converts Flash video content to HTML 5 video on the fly. Though the browser won’t convert videos from Hulu, nor will it allow users to play Flash games, it does allow users to view otherwise non-viewable Flash videos that permeate the web.
According to the developers behind the app, Skyfire isn’t a standalone app but rather works as a layer on top of Safari. A a result, the app was especially scrutinized by Apple’s app review team before subsequently being approved after a 2 month waiting period. The app was reportedly okayed by Apple because Skyfire’s servers download the Flash content, convert it to HTML 5 video on their end, and then stream it back to the iPhone – which is why Flash games requiring user interaction simply won’t work with the app.
When word broke that Apple approved the app, Skyfire’s server’s were overwhelmed and simply unable to keep up with user demand. As such, Skyfire had to temporarily remove the app before noting in a blogpost this past Friday that the team was working to build up capacity to support a larger than expected number of users and that future availability of the app will be doled out in batches.
We are going to open batches of downloads for new users over the coming days. The first batch will be in a few minutes on the Apple App Store. It will be first come, first serve.
Due to overwhelming demand, we are taking this approach because Skyfire believes a good user experience should come first, and we would rather have fewer, happier customers, and add new users as we can support them. We will open the first batches to US users only, with additional country support to follow shortly.
Originally conceived for Windows Mobile and Nokia devices back in 2008, the first iteration of Skyfire was criticized for bugginess and sluggishness. Skyfire 2.0, however, appears to have fixed many of those early complaints and debuted on the Android OS back in May 2010. Since then, the app has netted over 1.5 million downloads, and by the looks of it, will be just as, if not more successful on the iOS platform.
You can check it out on iTunes over here for $2.99.