It might not be the "nail in the coffin" for Flash that some critics have called it, but YouTube announced Tuesday that it will now default to the HTML5 video player instead of Flash. The change will apply to viewers using Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari 8 and beta versions of Firefox.
YouTube Engineering Manager Richard Leider made the announcement in a post on the YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog. In his post, he described how YouTube has been working over the past several years to overcome some HTML5 limitations that had been preventing its use as "our preferred platform for video delivery."
"Over the last four years, we've worked with browser vendors and the broader community to close those gaps," Leider wrote. "These advancements have benefited not just YouTube's community, but the entire industry."
Flash Continues To See Wide Usage
As several news outlets have noted since YouTube's announcement came out, this switch to HTML5 doesn't necessarily spell the end for Flash, which continues to see wide use in many applications, including Facebook games and many other mobile and console games. However, it does free YouTube users from many of the problems associated with Flash, which include the need to install a plug-in, as well as ongoing security issues.
Flash is also a proprietary platform, while HTML5 provides an open standard platform for video delivery.
The digital agency Waste Creative created a site called Flash vs. HTML to pit the two platforms against each other using a proof-of-concept game called Waste Invaders. It concluded, "They're both just tools, and we love ALL our tools! Taking sides with tech gets you nowhere fast." Flash, it added, is a "rich resource with unrivaled community support," while HTML5 "has the hot ticket in the form of its increasingly robust mobile browser support."
Benefits Extend 'Beyond Browsers'
"The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond Web browsers, and it's now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices," YouTube's Leider wrote Tuesday. "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."
Among the HTML5 improvements that contributed to YouTube's decision, Leider said, were the addition of support for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) streaming, which "has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily congested networks." HTML5 also supports the open VP9 codec, which helps to improve video resolution with reducing bandwidth. Other refinements include WebRTC for plugin-free video sharing and new full-screen APIs in HTML5.
Encrypted Media Extensions have also made it possible to de-link delivery platform from content protection technology, "enabling content providers like YouTube to use a single HTML5 video player across a wide range of platforms," Leider wrote. "Combined with Common Encryption, we can support multiple content protection technologies on different platforms with a single set of assets, making YouTube play faster and smoother."
Posted: 2015-02-04 @ 12:21pm PT
Disappointed that Flash has been replaced.
Will this HTML5 play videos in 1080 H quality?
Posted: 2015-02-04 @ 11:53am PT
@graeme That is not necessarily true at all. Not even close. It can be. But unless the specific open source product is better than the proprietary, it is not a good thing. And it would be ridiculous to suggest that there is a better open source alternative to all proprietary software.
Posted: 2015-02-01 @ 2:04pm PT
Anything that moves us (the consumers) away from proprietary platforms is a good thing.