App of the Week – Skyfire

Watching Flash vids on iPhone is here. Well, sort of...

Price: $2.99 (US ) - coming to UK soon

Platform: iPhone 4

The thing I most hate about 3D TV is that it doesn't make toast very well. You put the specs on and wiggle the bread around but it just sits there, raw, cold and floppy.

This is certainly annoying but complaining about it is as productive as getting peeved that Skyfire doesn't bring all-singing, all-dancing Flash to the iPhone. Yes, we all want to view cool animations and play games and flick two fingers at Steve Jobs but Skyfire only ever claimed to play Flash videos.

And that it does, well, better than my toaster does 3D at least. Navigate to BBC News, for instance, and the film clip icon pops up with a choice of clips. Hit this, wait 10-15 seconds while Skyfire's servers pre-load the content and then you get a pretty good stream, straight to your handset, on 3G or Wi-Fi.

Annoyingly, though, Skyfire is fussy about which sites it works with. Stuff's own fantastic Flash clips just fail completely to work. You can alert Skyfire to these disappointments, which it promises to get around to in due course.

In the meantime, Skyfire has more to offer - and here's where it starts earning its price-tag. The Explore button is a nice idea. It crawls the site you're on for search terms and puts together a great-looking results page with related videos (all guaranteed to work), trending terms, tweets and images: perfect for a lazy few minutes.

The search terms need some work though - Skyfire seems to just pluck words at random from your page. And some of the videos are really old. Another handy option is Facebook Quick View, which does exactly what you'd expect: open a window into Facebook in a flash.

Lastly, if you've used Skyfire on other handsets (it was my preferred browser on older Nokias) you might expect to see a speed increase on the iPhone 4. Sadly, that's not the case here. In tests, it was about the same as Safari - no great surprise as it's actually built on the bones of Apple's browser.

Overall, then, Skyfire is well worth a couple of bucks if you want to watch mainstream Flash vids, but if you're after hot, buttered crumpets, this isn't the browser for you.