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Skyfire Revisited: Hulu Works... For Now

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 15 comments

Flash playback is now working in the Android version of Skyfire.

At the end of April, the Skyfire 2.0 web browser hit the Android Market and promised to bring Adobe Flash to Google's mobile platform. Although Flash will receive native support in the upcoming Android 2.2 update, the browser was to bring Flash-based content early. Unfortunately, its claims seemed to be false, refusing to play Flash-based content provided by Hulu, and other media-laden websites.

But now that's changed. The browser recently received an update, and although the developer doesn't address Flash specifically in the release notes, suddenly Hulu content now plays within the browser. Users new to Skyfire may be thrown off at first however, as the content does not display directly on the webpage, but rather in a pop-up window via the browser's SkyBar.

At the time of this writing, Hulu video is playing rather well, showing a little lag that may stem from the phone's 3G connection (as opposed to switching over to the recommended Wi-Fi). Currently the Android platform is the only qualified candidate for Skyfire 2.0, however version 1.5 is available for Windows Mobile and Symbian.

Guess Flash finally found his running shoes? Think again. After writing this article, the PR firm representing Skyfire revealed Hulu's evil intentions in an email. "Skyfire is blocked by Hulu," the spokesperson told Tom's. "Their servers identify any incoming traffic from Skyfire's cloud servers, which render the video from Flash to HTML5. Sometimes Skyfire works on Hulu while Skyfire does routine updates of our servers. Typically, though, it's intermittent before Hulu re-blocks us."

So that means no portable Hulu love for Android owners? "Chances are that process is going on again," the spokesperson added. "From our standpoint, we haven't learned of Hulu intentionally allowing Skyfire to work."

Hulu must be owned by Dr. Evil. So much for portable, mid-day Maury. Still, Flash or no Flash (which may now depend on site allowances rather than software issues), Skyfire is an awesome browser for Android... definitely one to keep around.

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  • 0 Hide
    xxsk8er101xx , May 6, 2010 11:53 PM
    Skyfire does work for other non-hulu related streaming. Like right now i'm watching a hockey game on my droid incredible. Wings vs sharks game.
  • 0 Hide
    dreamphantom_1977 , May 7, 2010 12:32 AM
    When I first got my lg incite I downloaded it, and hulu worked fine for about a month, but then all of the sudden it stopped working. I don't know what happened.
  • 1 Hide
    tipmen , May 7, 2010 1:12 AM
    I just tried just tried it now. I got an error saying it isn't available on my platform. I'm not sure if this is just me or everyone.
  • Display all 15 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    tipmen , May 7, 2010 1:13 AM
    I Just tried it with my Droid and got an error message saying it isn't available on my platform.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 7, 2010 1:18 AM
    Skyfire is awsome they do all the processing server side and even crappy phones can play videos with it. Thats why flash works.
  • 1 Hide
    webbwbb , May 7, 2010 1:48 AM
    Am I the only one who thinks of the Autobot when he hears "Skyfire"?
  • 0 Hide
    dannyaa , May 7, 2010 2:02 AM
    it's because Hulu is intentionally blocking it to pave the way for their PAID service on mobile devices.

    That's not based on fact, just rumor and speculation. But mark my words - I am right :) 
  • 0 Hide
    husker , May 7, 2010 3:06 AM
    dannyaait's because Hulu is intentionally blocking it to pave the way for their PAID service on mobile devices.That's not based on fact, just rumor and speculation. But mark my words - I am right

    Is that strictly legal? I mean if I pay for my internet access, then what right does Hulu have say what device I use to access it? If you say they can do what they want, then it's not a big leap to say they could block service to, say, a particular brand of computer or target AMD platforms, etc. Assuming, of course, they had some way of determining the difference. Phones are computers, and computers are phones, the difference is getting blurred and they are setting a bad president.
  • 0 Hide
    husker , May 7, 2010 3:18 AM
    Sorry for multiple posts, but I just noticed that the previous story on Tom's makes my point for me as well. Here is the first paragraph in case you didn't read it:

    On Thursday the FCC is expected to reveal its roadmap for regulating broadband in attempt to maintain net neutrality. The plan is expected to change the way the FCC defines broadband without adding additional regulations, forcing phone companies, wireless carriers, and cable companies to treat all Internet traffic equally, and not block websites or throttle connections.
  • 0 Hide
    webbwbb , May 7, 2010 3:26 AM
    Husker, the difference here is that it is not an ISP which is blocking it, it is an actual website. Hulu also blocks connections outside the US since they are not licensed to provide content in any other country. A good comparison here is that if your bank site detects someone attempting to hack their systems they can block them from accessing their servers and are in good legal grounds to do so. It is likely that when Skyfire converts the ads (which is Hulu's only source of revenue) to HTML5 it either removes the advertisements or removes Hulu's ability to track that the ads have been played by the user. In this case Hulu's systems have been compromised and they are losing money instead of making it. Another thought is that if they do not pursue things like this they may be punished by content providers in some way (I am sure that Skyfire's filtration of the files would allow people outside the US to watch things on Hulu).
  • 0 Hide
    mdillenbeck , May 7, 2010 4:42 AM
    Although I have heard the rumors about various paid content services from Hulu, I thought the main reason that they blocked Skyfire was due to those IP laws we all love so much - specifically, since the Skyfire servers can be accessed from anywhere in the world but identify themselves in the US, people may be streaming content in countries where Hulu has not paid to stream those videos. (Sort of like how I can't get my Doctor Who fix here in the states because BBCs iPlayer is only available in the UK and I'm not going to pay a fortune to my cable company to get old episodes on BBC America - buried in a premium channel package. *sigh*)
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , May 7, 2010 1:14 PM
    According to the article it isn't just HULU. The article did mention " and other media-laden websites"
  • 0 Hide
    joe gamer , May 7, 2010 3:53 PM
    God damn cock blocking Media, guess I'll just pirate the shows with no commercials and send em to my droid instead.
  • 0 Hide
    husker , May 7, 2010 6:10 PM
    @webbwbb - Thanks for your response. :) 
    I agree in particular with the point you make regarding add tracking and revenue since that is their bread & butter -- at least for now. I do appreciate the difference between an ISP filtering or throttling content provider doing the same; however, I am extrapolating a bit on the concept of what rights a web content provider has on limiting the type of device the end user ultimately uses to view their content - even if it is in the interest of protecting their revenue stream. It kind of opens the door for webistes to use this practice in "unfair" ways. Imagine if ebay decided to block all content to Apple computers because they don't like them. This is not exactly the same thing, I realize, but you get my point. It might fall under anti-trust law or something like that, but what do I know?. Like many things regarding the internet, existing laws don't begin to cover it.
  • 0 Hide
    dreamphantom_1977 , May 7, 2010 6:31 PM
    tipmenI just tried just tried it now. I got an error saying it isn't available on my platform. I'm not sure if this is just me or everyone.

    Thats exactly what happened. It used to work, then it just stopped, and that message popped up.
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