New app will one-up Facebook on iPad using Flash

Facebook only recently updated its app to work on Apple's iPad, but it's still missing many of the features of its desktop counterpart. An upcoming app aims to change that.

iSwifter's upcoming "theWorx" app for iPad.
(Credit: iSwifter)

The start-up that currently offers a stand-alone browser app for the iPad that can stream Adobe Flash content, iSwifter, plans to launch a new app next month tailored specifically for Facebook users.

The app, called theWorx, gives users a way to view Facebook's news feed, photos, events and notifications, just like they would on the social networking giant's own app. However, the real draw is that the app can stream games and applications.

iSwifter has put these in a stand-alone section it calls the App Hub, which displays "all" of Facebook's games in a searchable database. These games can be played right inside the app, using iSwifter's streaming technology — something that users can't do in Facebook's iPad app, or by accessing the social network in Apple's Safari.

"Our goal is to have all the features Facebook offers, in addition to the ones it doesn't, like games," iSwifter co-founder Rohan Relan said in an interview with CNET.

Relan says that users will also be able to spend their Facebook credits within the app. This does not go through Apple's in-app purchase system, and instead relies on users to manage that information from Facebook's website.

Similar to its existing browser application, users will need to purchase the capability to stream games. Relan said that the company hasn't set a price on this yet, but that it will be similar to the US$4.99 to the one-time purchase option in its web-browser app. The company also plans to make money by selling its own ads that will sit on the right side of games, much like how they look on Facebook.

Behind the scenes, iSwifter runs Flash games and applications on the company's servers, and then streams them to the iPad. This cuts out the need to have Adobe's mobile Flash player plug-in installed — something that Apple does not allow, and that Adobe has ceased development on. Competing browsers like Skyfire and Photon have approached the limitation with similar streaming solutions.

The company's existing app already provides a way to play a number of social games from Facebook, and, more recently, Google+. Last year, the company said that it was working on a similar app for Apple's OS X platform, though according to Relan, that's currently been put on hold.

The upcoming app comes at a time when Facebook is under pressure to shore up its mobile efforts. In an amended version of its S-1 filing earlier this month, the social networking giant noted that an increasing number of its users are accessing the site on mobile devices, where the company has less advertising. iSwifter's app could certainly be a threat to that, although it could also bolster the revenue that Facebook brings in from its virtual currency system.

Below is a video of how the app will look, based on a current development build. It launches in June.


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