YouTube to host videos in HTML5 now after years of Flash videos
No one notice the video streaming giant YouTube quitely moved from providing Flash based videos to HTML5 based videos on desktop. If this had happened a few year ago there would have a huge brouhaha of online users but no one seems to have noticed the change happening now.
For one, till a few years ago Flash was considered ultimate for providing video or animation based graphics online. In fact it would have been seen as a sacrilege to use any other medium for videos. But over the years things have changed radically, Adobe is not what it was a few years ago and Adobe’s Flash has become less relevant now a days.
Also technology wise things are different now. Till a few years ago every thing online was woven around Microsoft Internet Explorer and Flash was one of them. Not anymore, IE itself is on verge of becoming irrelevant with Microsoft itself ditching is partly for Windows 10 Preview version. Also with new technologies came new browsers which were capable of supporting different formats without a hitch. Google Chromium project of one of these projects and almost all popular browsers now tend to use Chromium for their browsers.
With the upgradation can the inherent change and YouTube’s move to HTML5 is one of them. Also the support HTML5 is getting from tech companies including Firefox and smartphone manufactures including Samsung et al means that may have HTML5 based smartphones in not so distant future.
Making the announcement on a blog post, YouTube stated that its web video player will demote Adobe Flash and start streaming HTML5 videos by default on all modern browsers including Chrome, IE11, Safari 8 and in new beta versions of Firefox.
Stating the obvious, YouTube engineer Richard Leider said that the company is officially ditching Flash in favour of HTML5 since the latter adds more flexibility for developers, bloggers and consumers, with benefits that “extend beyond web browsers.”
To move from the Flash based videos to HTML5 support YouTube had to embark on a massive technological exercise.
First of all they have moved to MediaSource Extensions to provide Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming. ABR is very critical for providing a quality video experience for viewers as it allows YouTube to seamlessly adjust resolution and bitrate for good, bad and worst network conditions. YouTube says that ABR has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks. MediaSource Extensions also enable live streaming in game consoles like Xbox and PS4, on devices like Chromecast and in web browsers.
Second they have moved to VP9 codec which gives you higher quality video resolution with an average bandwidth reduction of 35 percent. VP9 allows allows more people to access 4K and HD at 60FPS — and videos start 15-80 percent faster. YouTube hopes to make VP9 codec mainstream in the future.
Third for encryption, YouTube has taken WebRTC support. YouTube says that this will enable everyone to share their videos with the world, whether uploading pre-recorded videos or broadcasting live. WebRTC allows YouTube to build on the same technology that enables plugin-free Google Hangouts to provide broadcasting tools from within the browser.
YouTube will also use new fullscreen APIs in HTML5, YouTube is able to provide an immersive fullscreen viewing experience which is perfect for streaming 4K videos, all with standard HTML UI.
“Over the last four years, we’ve worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps, and now, YouTube uses HTML5 by default in Chrome, IE 11, Safari 8 and in beta versions of Firefox. The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it’s now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices,” Leider noted on the blog post.
With these changes YouTube will now be streaming videos in HTML5 so for YouTube, Flash is officially dead, Long Live Adobe Flash.