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Startup iSwifter said that its Rover Browser for education has seen a quick start in downloads and rapid adoption among schools and teachers who want to use it to provide access to Flash-based internet content for classrooms. Since its introduction in December, the Rover Browser has climbed into the top 30 education apps in the Apple App Store.
Rajat Gupta, chief executive of Menlo Park, Calif.-based iSwifter, said the Rover Browser can run on the iPads that many school districts are deploying for students. And the Rover for Education app on the iPad will offer firewall compliance and will meet standards for the Children’s Internet Protection Act in terms of protecting children from nasty online stuff.
“We think this is going to make the lives of schoolchildren much easier,” Gupta said in an interview.
As such, the Rover Browser will transform iPads into digital textbooks that can run Adobe Flash content. Much online education content runs on Flash, but the iPad doesn’t normally run Flash. But iSwifter can do so through its streaming technology. It runs the Adobe software in its web-connected data centers. Then it sends video images at high speeds to the iPads, which then display the Flash content as video. It also doesn’t allow access to unauthorized sites.
iSwifter is launching an update to the Rover Browser that addresses feedback. It adds native controls for touch inputs, split keypad support, and D-pad control for educational games. Video and sound quality has also been improved.
Teachers can automatically communicate with school information technology administrators to make sure they are in compliance with policies, even when students use the Rover Browser from home.The Rover Browser app has a rating of four stars out of five on the App STore.
“We want to make it easier for teachers to communicate,” Gupta said.
Craig Halper, vice president of Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications (owner of the Discovery Channel), said in an interview that the Rover Browser helps the company move Flash-based content quickly to the iPad without much pain. Most of Discovery Education’s content is cross-platform in the form of H.264 video, but some of it is specific to Flash and Halper said that part is where iSwifter is useful.
Halper said that demand for the iPad in schools is clearly rising and students are using iPads not only in school but during the off hours as well. Delivering high-quality education apps to the iPad is thus a big priority for Discovery, Halper said.
iSwifter, which is funded by incubator YouWeb, will also be able to stream Flash-based content from education sites such as Funbrain, and Mathletics. iSwifter’s mobile browser has been downloaded more than 1 million times over the past year or so.