Palo Alto-based OnLive, the cloud gaming pioneer, is offering a new way for iPad users to view Flash content and surf the Web ultra quickly.
Via a new service that launched Wednesday, iPad users can access a supercharged version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer within the OnLive Desktop app. with that browser, users can view videos and play games streamed using Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash technology, something they can’t do using the iPad’s built-in browser.
And OnLive says that content as well as normal Web pages should load nearly instantaneously because the browser runs on the company’s servers in its data centers.
The new application could be revolutionary because it gives users of mobile devices access to applications and experiences they previously could get only through a full-blown PC, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Gartner, a research group.
“This has the potential to transform the way people think about computing,” he said.
OnLive launched OnLive Desktop last month. the app allows iPad users to see a virtual Windows desktop and interact with standard Microsoft Office programs including Word and Excel. but the usefulness of the app is limited, because users can’t use it to connect to online services.
The company is addressing that shortcoming with the new service. For a $5 monthly fee, OnLive Desktop users will get access to Internet Explorer as well as the Office apps.
The OnLive Desktop browser runs on a version of Windows running on the company’s servers in its data centers. OnLive essentially takes screen captures of what’s displayed in the browser and on the virtual desktop and streams those down to users’ iPads.
Not only are OnLive’s servers fast, but they also have superfast connections to the Internet. Thanks to those connections, the browsers are able to load Web pages rapidly and then immediately stream what they show to users’ iPads. to help speed the process, OnLive doesn’t send the whole Web page to users. Instead, it only sends what will fit on their screens, said Steve Perlman, OnLive’s founder and CEO.
“It’s crazy cool,” Perlman said. “The iPad, in the ultimate irony, now has the fastest Flash browser in the world.”
The application is likely to appeal to consumers who want to access Flash content on their iPads and mobile professionals who need to be able to access and edit Office documents on the go, Gartenberg said.
“For anyone that travels with an iPad, this is going to be a must-have application,” he said.
OnLive isn’t the first company to offer Flash browsing on the iPad. YouWeb’s iSwifter app, for example, is a similar cloud-connected Web browser that allows users to browse Flash-enabled sites and play Flash games. the company similarly charges monthly fees for users to access such content.
Other companies similarly offer remote access to Windows desktops and applications. Citrix offers an iPad app that allows users to connect to run virtual versions of Windows and other applications. the Splashtop app allows users to connect to their own Windows PCs.
OnLive’s Desktop application differs from rivals in that it’s not trying to give users access to their own PCs, Gartenberg said. and it’s so fast that it feels almost as if it’s running natively on the iPad rather than in the cloud, he said.
“You are going to get a no-compromise experience,” he said.
Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285. Follow him at Twitter.com/troywolv.
Source: Mercury News reporting