Like many, I was excited at the prospect of Frash, a new third-party tool that cropped up this past weekend for jailbroken iPhones and iPads that adds Adobe Flash compatibility to these devices.
The add-on, which was created by development firm Comex (makers of jailbreaking tool JailbreakMe.com), is in its early alpha stages, so it's unfair to compare it to say, something like Adobe's first-party efforts with its beta on Google's Android. But after using Frash for the past three days, I'm impressed.
Yes, it crashes a lot, and yes, it's incapable of doing most videos, or any sort of Flash games, which are arguably the two main reasons to get Flash onto an iOS device. However, for something as simple as loading up a restaurant menu, or a Flash-only splash screen that clicks through to an HTML site, Frash has the makings of an invaluable tool.
But even with jailbreaking now legal in the U.S., is it worth the related risks such as:
Voiding your warranty agreement with Apple Relying on a vulnerability that was patched by Apple on Wednesday Trusting software from an untested source?
Let's find out.
Note: CNET does not encourage voiding your warranty, or running unsigned, third-party code. This story is for informational purposes, and should not be considered a how-to guide.
How Frash works
Before setting out into the exciting world of Frash, it's worth understanding how it works.
Frash is not available in the App Store, but it's still easy to get it on a device that's been jailbroken through one of the third-party application installers. Users need to first add an additional download source to one of the available third-party app installation programs like Rock or Cydia.
Once it's installed, visiting Web sites with Adobe Flash elements in Safari no longer show up with the dreaded "this site requires Flash Player X or later" message, or large missing chunks of space. Instead, users see gray boxes emblazoned with the word "Flash," which when pressed, load up that Flash element and that Flash element only--just like how Adobe implemented Flash in its beta for Android.
When Frash is installed, it's on the whole time and cannot be toggled off. That is, unless you install another unsigned third-party app called SBsettings, which adds a drop-down menu to the top of your iOS device. Every time a user does this, it restarts Safari and requires reloading whatever Web pages you were looking at.
The first thing you'll discover after installing Frash is that it tends to crash. A lot. But when it works on something, it's a great feeling.
One large grouping of sites where you could only get by with Flash are automobile sites. In the recent months, that's let up a bit, though there are still a handful of sites including Saab, Cadillac, and Lamborghini, where you can't even get in the door without Flash installed. In the case of Cadillac, you still can't get into it with Frash enabled, because it detects that you're on an iPhone/iPad.
Many other car sites, including Subaru and Ferrari, have photo viewers that you can't get to without Flash. With Frash enabled, most of these worked to a point, though they were slow to load and we ran into problems with the interfaces being designed for a mouse rather than a finger. Also, in most cases, by simply turning Frash off, we were presented with an iPhone or iPad-formatted version of the site in question, so the need here was a relative non-issue. … Read more