I tried RealTube on Saturday morning and immediately posted about it because it was enabling me to play Flash content on my Windows Phone. Since then I’ve had an exchange of emails with the developers to get a better picture as to what their app does and now I really get how brilliant it is for the entire platform. RealTube is a Flash Video player written in Silverlight. So they coded a Flash player in Silverlight code so when you go to view Flash you are doing exactly that. It’s not sending the file through a proxy or converting the format from Flash to Silverlight on the fly. It’s actually a local Flash player which is secure (since it’s local and not via a proxy) and will also perform better and reduce battery life since it’s not constantly converting formats.
What this all comes down to is simple. It’s the ability to go to any Flash video on the web (be it on YouTube, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Metacafe, etc) and just click ‘play’ on the video and it plays even though it’s in Flash. When we talk about Flash in general there are two pieces to it – flash video and flash content. I think most of us care a lot more about video – we want to see any video regardless of format on our phone. Flash content is tings like games (which are unplayable on mobiles because of controls), ads and also traditional content like interactive sites (which HTML5 should wipe up pretty well). Quite frankly I don’t care as much for Flash content as the mobile platforms are fighting against it and enabling all Flash content means things like Flash ads will popup, etc. Flash isn’t known to be the lightest on batteries so if I could get the ability to watch any Flash based videos without getting pinged with ads and killing my battery while hurting my phones performance it would be a huge win and that’s where RealTube comes in. Their Silverlight coded Flash video player is efficient (and they’ve tested it with great battery performance) and in using it personally there’s nothing more you’d want. Now there are sites that it can’t play the videos but that’s because the site/publisher has blocked access based on location or mobile device, etc. If there was a Flash plugin to Internet Explorer you would have the same access problem.
But getting back to it, watching Android get Flash has been a bit of a story watching battery life take a hit and performance go with it. I know, some phones do it better than others but for what? I don’t need Flash ads and I don’t want to take a performance hit for the privilege of watching Flash content. I just want to get the video content I want without drawbacks and that’s what this will enable.
Currently RealTube lets you browse for videos (results are provided by Bing). It’s about to get a lot more exciting though. As you probably know, MS permits you to drop IE into an app and you can do almost anything you want with it once it’s there (that’s where those third party browser apps all come from). Well the next iteration of RealTube is planned to have more websites included natively and also give you a browser within the app to let you simply go to a site and click play on a Flash video and it will play using their player. So so sweet. And we’ll tell you when that happens.
But I still want more. I would prefer MS just grant this app native access so it can be included in the native IE app. There’s one thing you can gain that way that I can’t get otherwise – if someone sends a link to a webpage it opens in IE, not RealTube, and without copy and paste that means I can’t use the RealTube player for it unless I remember the site, etc. There’s no reason for this. So, my simple plea to Microsoft – grant these developers the right to have RealTube as a native IE extension so users can view Flash video within the native browser. And with that, you can stop spending so many resources on a Flash plugin…this will do just fine.