There’s no need to void your warranty with these ‘Apple approved’ workarounds.
The iPhone has come a long way since the early days, when it didn't support third-party applications, video recording, or even MMS and copy-and-paste. But there are still a lot of things it can't do compared to Android smartphones. A lack of Flash support is the most well-known shortcoming. The inability to download files from the web browser is another limitation that forces users to employ clumsy workarounds like emailing the file to themselves (this works for office documents and PDFs only) or downloading the file to a desktop computer first and then transferring it across using iTunes. Finally, the rich sharing options present on Android are conspicuously absent in iOS – in its present form, at least.
The good news is that you don’t have to jailbreak your iPhone to fix these shortcomings, and while the solutions aren’t as elegant as having the features built into the operating system, they’re (mostly) good enough to get by with, and will give your smug Android-toting mates a few less things to brag about.
CineXPlayer expands upon native iOS video formats.
Surprisingly, Apple has approved third party apps that fix the first two limitations, and iOS 5 (which will be available soon) introduces the option to share photos, YouTube videos, web sites and more to Twitter. You can also share content with other services, namely Facebook, Evernote and Flickr, using a simple workaround.
Flash-ify your iPhone
To add Flash support, there’s no one solution that covers everything. For playing Flash games, Cloud Browse is the only app available for the iPhone that works reasonably well for loading Flash games through a web browser, although you’ll need to upgrade to the premium subscription for a costly US$5.99 a month to get decent speeds.
A better solution is checking whether the Flash game you want to play is available as a standalone app that plugs into the online version. Most Facebook games like Mafia Wars, Farmville, Zynga Poker, Words with Friends and Bejeweled are available as iPhone games that provide a significantly better experience – not to mention the fact that they’re available for a cheaper, one-off price.
Viewing Flash-formatted web sites and watching Flash videos is easily accomplished using the Skyfire web browser (US$2.99), which currently supports over 200,000 web sites. Skyfire analyses each page you visit for web content, and gives you an option to launch the video full-screen by tapping an icon in the toolbar. Another cool feature in Skyfire is the ability to easily share content you’re currently browsing with Facebook, Twitter, Read It Later, and other online services.
Download anything from anywhere
Filer (US$4.49) is a file management application that offers a lot of advanced features like the ability to browse web servers and file compression support, but the most interesting function is that it enables you to download files over the internet – something that isn’t natively supported by Safari. Filer offers a few different ways to download files, including a custom bookmarklet in Safari and a browser built into Filer. Once you’ve downloaded a file, you can open it using one of the apps installed on your iPhone – you can use this method to download full-length movies in any format, for instance, and then view them using a compatible video app like CineXPlayer or OPlayer.
Share and share alike
To get around the lack of sharing options, you can use iOS’s built-in email sharing feature. Many online services like Facebook, Evernote and Flickr give you customised email addresses that you can use for posting content via email, and you can use this address for ‘sharing’ content from within the iPhone’s Safari, YouTube and Photos apps.