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Frash, the iOS Flash work-around: Hits and misses

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.

What works

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

Buzz Out Loud 1287: Giant Angry Earth Fart (podcast)

On today's show, we've discovered the secret of the Bermuda Triangle -- well, some scientists discovered it. We just call it a giant angry Earth fart, like the one that's apparently going to destroy us all. Oh, and also, soft-core porn, falsified expense reports, and a vengeful board. It's the HP Way!

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The 404 640: Where we finally run Frash (podcast)

Adobe launched its Flash player for the Android 10.1 operating system back in June, and now Apple is getting the same treatment, but under the table. The same hacker group that released the Web site jailbreakme.com has released an early version of Flash for jailbroken iPhones.

The program is called Frash (pause for Jeff to laugh), and at the moment it can only handle Web sites with basic Flash animations, so don't expect to watch streaming videos from sites such as YouTube or Vimeo just yet. Keep in mind that jailbreaking your iPhone does make it vulnerable to a certain security exploit revealed last week. Of course, Apple is planning to patch the issue, so you may want to hold off on updating apps like Frash until then.

You've probably heard of cars that run on vegetable oil, but what about a vehicle that runs on methane gas extracted from human waste? Engineers at GENeco are testing a Volkswagen Beetle, aka "Dung Beetle," that uses methane harvested from bacteria stored in sewage decomposition containers.

The thought of a fart-powered car might tickle your gag reflex, but there's no denying its energy efficiency. Our own Rory Reid on Crave U.K. said the waste from 70 homes can create enough gas to run the Dung Beetle for 10,000 miles, and it's also carbon neutral since all of it normally is released into the atmosphere when the sewage converts to methane.

Join us in the second half of the show where we'll discuss yesterday's epic Classic Tetris World Championship in Los Angeles. More than 200 players competed in the Championship organized by former Nintendo World Champion player Robin Mihara, but only Jonas Neubauer was able to beat the other eight players in the semi-finals and win the trophy and $1,000 prize.

We asked for TerrorByte lyrics over the weekend and you guys certainly delivered! Check out today's submission from Mark after the break, and don't forget to send yours to the404(at)cnet(dot)com! If you just want to leave a comment about the show, feel free to give us a ring at 1-866-404-CNET or BBM our phone at 2482F452; we'll be waiting!… Read more

Dev aims to get Flash running on iPad
iPad owners who are still upset that Apple won't allow Flash in iOS might soon have a solution.

A new application for jailbroken iPads called Frash allows owners to run Flash in their Mobile Safari browser. The app was developed by Comex, a company that created the Spirit jailbreak.

Frash isn't currently available for wide release. The app, according to its developers, just isn't stable enough to justify releasing it just yet. Realizing that, Comex has decided to make the app's files available on GitHub to allow any developer to tweak and improve the software for … Read more