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Dear Aunt TUAW: Is Flash video working on iPad yet?

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Dear Aunt TUAW,

I keep hearing about applications like Skyfire working on the iPad so we can watch Flash video. But when I hop over to Hulu, it says I have to join Hulu Plus to view videos.

Why does Hulu act like this? What am I doing wrong?

Love,

Your nephew Chris W.



Dear Chris,

Skyfire does indeed offer Flash video support. When it detects embedded video (typically when you browse across a page that has a Flash error message), the application connects to Skyfire's servers to transcode that FLV content so that it'll play on your iPad or other iOS device. Skyfire's Flash support is limited to video; it does not enable Flash games or apps.

Unfortunately, some monetized sites, like Hulu, disable iPad video access through any solution outside of the custom Hulu Plus player. The same content you can watch on your laptop cannot be viewed from your iPad, even with Skyfire's Flash support.

To see what's going on, you need to tap the button at the bottom-right of the Skyfire screen. The button name varies depending on the state of the web page you visit, starting with "analyzing" and ending up with "info" or "video," or similar. Although Skyfire's FAQ page suggests that you need to tap the button to begin analysis, I found that the button automatically started the process upon visiting any new page.

When viewing the Hulu site, tapping this button (labeled "info" on the iPhone, "video info" on the iPad) brought up this information pop-over, making it clear that "Hulu is not making videos available for mobile browsers."

On compliant sites, the button is labeled "video" instead. A tap allows you to start optimizing media for iPad playback. A Skyfire spokesman told TUAW that outside of Hulu, "There are many network sites [with] full episode content available across the web that Skyfire enables on iOS devices." He mentioned that there are over 200,000 such sites.
Hulu's content blocking is not limited to the iPad. Boxee, Google TV and other third-party solutions are also affected. For now, if you want to watch Hulu content on your iPad, the subscription-based Hulu Plus application is going to be your best choice.
Love,
Auntie T.
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