iPad gets Flash yet again with iSwifter app, Android version coming soon (hands-on)

Ever since Skyfire brought Flash to the iPad with its server-side solution, we've had a feeling that others would try to emulate the experience and satisfy the general public's desire for the venerable format on Apple's tablet. iSwifter is another entrant to the space, and its app claims to allow access to any Flash content on the web -- a lofty claim indeed. Oh, and did we mention it's coming to Android versions above 2.2 as well? We've given the iPad app a brief rundown, so head past the break for a breakdown of the positives and negatives.

The iSwifter homescreen is broken into two panels, one for a general web browser and the other containing a gallery predetermined Flash games verified to work flawlessly within the app. The built-in browser allows you to browse to any site, and because it's processed on the iSwifter servers all content loads as it would on a PC. We tested it out with Facebook, Hulu, and Vevo -- all of which worked as advertised. Still, the app certainly has some caveats. We noticed that no browser data is cached -- so you'll have to re-login each time you want to access your Facebook account, for example. (We're told this is to avoid privacy / data collection issues, but it may become an option in a future release). Still, the trade-off to be able to watch your friends' embarrassing wall videos is definitely worth it for a few extra keystrokes in our opinion. Next, some of the servers are located outside the US, as we learned when Facebook prompted us to verify the account because we were accessing it from a "new location." Searching for Farmville redirected us to Farmville Chinese, so there's at least some of the magic being done over there.

The other main issue we noticed with the iSwifter app involves larger problems with Flash games not being touch-optimized, but this applies to most touch implementations of Flash we've come across thus far. Since arrow key emulation is not implemented on any touch keyboards to our knowledge, playing games that require anything besides direct input is currently a no-go. We've been told that some sort of gesture / keymapping solution is in the works, but that will inevitably cause issues with other Flash apps. We're hoping that a real solution comes along, perhaps in the form of some sort of gameplay key overlay, but we're sure that more improvements will come down the road. We should still mention that iSwifter loads all flash content inline -- ads included. Whereas Skyfire omits some Flash elements that it can't convert, with iSwifter everything seems to load as if you had Flash installed right on the device itself, for better or for worse.

Performance wise, iSwifter as a Flash player more than suffices, but you'll probably want to stick to Safari for general web browsing. Pinch-to-zoom is present, and although there's a noticeable bit of lag when navigating, it's not a dealbreaker. Overall, for a first release of a built-in Flash browser, iSwifter more than delivers on its claims. The app is currently free, but eventually it'll cost you a measly 99 cents to remove a usage time limitation. A version for Android versions above 2.2 should be hitting the Android Market in a few short weeks, including support for Honeycomb. Of course, that could be before Adobe even delivers on its promise to get Flash on the Xoom -- your move Moto.