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Oh My Tech: How to play Facebook games on your tablet

Published February 6, 2012 3:59 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A week ago I bought an iPad 2, but because of the lack of Flash, I returned it yesterday. I did lots of reading about the comparison with the [Samsung] Galaxy, but the one thing I completely forgot was playing games on Facebook! I wanted something portable that my daughter and I could read our books on but also needed something to play FB games on (like MonsterWorld, Puzzle Saga, etc.). Please say there is hope for me. I really want to keep the Galaxy to keep on top of the latest and greatest … but I will return it in exchange for a laptop if this frustration with the FB games can't be resolved­ — Laurie Crovo.

I've touched on this subject before in a previous column where I wrote that the Samsung Galaxy Tab was not an ideal way to play Facebook games, even though it can run Flash animation.

The fact is, Flash for mobile devices does not work well, and it's not going to get better. Adobe, which makes Flash, announced in November that it is ceasing further development of Flash for mobile devices.

But you still want to play Flash-based Facebook games on your tablet. I know of only two choices right now that will make that possible: using a cloud-based service or hoping someone makes an Android- or iPad-specific app for the Facebook games you play.

Facebook game developers such as Zynga are making iPad or Android apps of some games, including FarmVille and Words With Friends. A downside for many of them is the Facebook versions on your desktop computer and the mobile app versions are not tied to the same servers, so you can't play on one and save your progress for the other.

The other way to play these games is through cloud-based apps. These are mobile apps like iSwifter ($4.99) or Social Games ($3.99) that allow you to play Facebook games on a server somewhere in the country, but the game is streamed to your device. The problem is there can be such a delay between you and the server, and things can be slow or choppy.

I have found one app that uses this same idea of cloud-based gaming but seems to do it much better than the others. It's called Splashtop and involves installing free server software on your PC or Mac at home and then installing the Splashtop Remote Desktop app on your mobile device ($4.99 for iOS and Android, http://www.splashtop.com).

When you turn it on, it treats your desktop at home as a server that your mobile device connects to and allows you to operate your desktop remotely. You can then turn on your web browser on your computer and play Facebook games. The advantage with this over other cloud-based apps is you have a better, closer connection to your computer, leading to a clearer image on your mobile device with little to no lag. It might be worth trying if you're willing to give up $5.

If you have a question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.