YouTube has announced that its now defaulting to its HTML5 video player instead of its Flash player.
The site first implemented a HTML5 player four years ago but HTML5 was missing support for certain features such as Adaptive Bitrate (ABR); however, thanks to browser improvements many of the technical hurdles have been overcome.
Over the last four years, we’ve worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 video by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox.
Here are some of the key technologies that were necessary to make this possible:
● MediaSource Extensions
● VP9 video codec
● Encrypted Media Extensions and Common Encryption
● Moving to iframe embeds
YouTube notes that these technological enhancements have been beneficial to others including Apple.
Other content providers like Netflix and Vimeo, as well as companies like Microsoft and Apple have embraced HTML5 and been key contributors to its success. By providing an open standard platform, HTML5 has also enabled new classes of devices like Chromebooks and Chromecast. You can support HTML5 by using the iframe API everywhere you embed YouTube videos on the web.
For years, Apple has been criticized for not allowing Flash on its iOS devices, leading Steve Jobs in April 2010 to release an open letter explaining Apple’s position on the subject. Inside, Jobs addresses the technical issues associated with Flash and Adobe’s criticisms of Apple for not using the platform.
In light of YouTube’s transition to HTML5, however, it’s worth pointing out the close of the letter:
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.
New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too).