State of the Union on the state of iPad video

The State of the Union address highlights challenges when watching live video streams on the iPad--in some cases.

The State of the Union address this evening underscored the limitations of watching live video from the front pages of major U.S. publications on Apple's iOS devices and why Flash is the default video streaming technology.

This is the message I got on more than a few major media Web sites when trying to watch a live video stream of the State of the Union on my iPad.
This is the message I got on more than a few major media Web sites when trying to watch a live video stream of the State of the Union on my iPad.

In my case, I was trying to watch President Obama's speech on my iPad and found that almost every major U.S. national newspaper could not provide a live feed from their front door, generating messages like "this content is only available in Flash" or "This feature is optimized for Adobe Flash Player version 9 or higher."

Yes, this is a known issue for Flash-less iOS devices. And, of course, there are plenty of ways to watch a live feed of an event like the State of the Union on an iPad or iPhone. But the fact that the intuitive act of going to a publication's front page and watching a live stream--like you would do on a laptop, for instance--was impossible in some cases on the iPad, did not exactly inspire confidence in the state of the iOS video platform.

I cross-checked this on my MacBook. I was able to watch the address pretty much instantly on all of those same sites--and on virtually any site where the live feed was made available.

So, is HTML5, as promoted by Apple, the next default technology for watching live video streams? Not yet. And now that we're on the subject there are some pretty important Web sites--for me, at least--where I cannot access video streams on my iOS device, including this major birding site.

Motorola's Flash-capable Xoom tablet is due next month. That tablet's ability to handle live Flash video streams will be test case No. 1 for me.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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