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Android Firefox Media News

Mozilla Adds H.264 Support To Android Firefox 77

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the still-waiting-on-vp8 dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Chris Double of the Mozilla developer team has (H.264, AAC and MP3) working with the Android version of Firefox on a Nexus S handset. Although a preliminary patch, it looks like it is on track to be included in Firefox 17, which will enter the Aurora channel at the end of the month. It will be some time before being made available to users, so hang in there. A very welcome addition. Thanks Chris!"
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Mozilla Adds H.264 Support To Android Firefox

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  • Why are we not hearing from WebM and Google anymore? Is the industry going to fall in like with h.264 the same way they have with other royalty-encumbered standards?
    • Re:Sanity prevails (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:20AM (#40997991) Journal

      "Mozilla decided that, where available, Firefox should take advantage of the media decoding capabilities supplied by the underlying hardware and operating system. This approach means that Mozilla won’t have to license patent-encumbered codecs or include built-in decoders in the browser—it can just use the decoding capabilities that are already present in relevant environments."

      Given that the vast majority of smartphones seem to be based on SoCs with hardware h.264 decoding as an option, usually turned on, I suspect that it is largely a dead issue on the mobile side. Nobody can really afford to not support it at all, full stop, that capability stubbed out in the little crypto blob that controls the hardware decoder; and once you've enabled it, there is minimal additional complexity(and no legal entanglement) for Mozilla or anybody else who wishes to ask the decoder to do some decoding.

      On the desktop, where hardware decoding cannot be as reliably depended upon, or in relatively closed embedded systems where cost is a major factor, there might still be room.

      (Alternately, it could be that Google doesn't really give a damn about formats, they just care about licensing fees, and only need WebM to be plausible enough to keep the MPEG-LA running a little bit scared, not enough to run them into the ground, which is likely too expensive to be cost effective.)

      • Re:Sanity prevails (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Verunks (1000826) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @12:19PM (#40998789)

        on the desktop both windows and osx have an integrated h264 decoder, on linux is probably just a matter of installing ffmpeg or something like that

        • XP doesn't, not sure about Vista(and there may be some ghastly mess with 'business' and 'home basic' vs. 'home premium' or some nonsense).

          Generally, though, the bet among pragmatists seems to be that, sooner or later, Mozilla will go down the 'just expose platform's preferred media decode system' road(though that would increase the amount of platform specific code, and would actually gimp support for things like webM and ogg vorbis/FLAC, since those tend not to show up by default in quicktime or directshow)

          • Re:Sanity prevails (Score:4, Informative)

            by KingMotley (944240) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @01:36PM (#40999675) Journal

            XP does/did. Every Nvidia card and integrated chipset with onboard video made since 2004 has had h.264 hardware decoding included, with the exception of the 6100 made around the same time.

          • by roca (43122)

            Even if/when we expose platform H.264/AAC decoding to the Web (which I think we will), we certainly aren't going to remove support for free codecs such as Vorbis, VP8 and Opus.

            We want content producers to use free codecs. Given some aren't going to, we still want content producers to be *able* to use free codecs.

      • And why would you not be able to rely on hardware decoding on the desktop? Every video card released by nvidia in the past 8 years has hardware decoding on it.

        • Discrete video cards are a tiny slice of the market(albeit a tiny slice that tends to spend more money; but still tiny.)

          On the integrated side, Intel chipsets don't have full hardware decode(substantially earlier ones had support for certain video-related math; but you still need a patent-licenced h.264 software decoder on top to actually decode) until the G45+(GMAX4500HD) which hit as a comparatively high price part in latish 2008.

          Nvidia and ATI integrated graphics start supporting it a bit earlier; but ar

    • Google is trying to sneak WebM in through the back door by making it a mandatory codec for WebRTC - which would, coincidentally, make it the *only* mandatory codec for the next generation of web technologies (HTML5, WebRTC et al)...

      Thats why you haven't heard anything from Google - they've switched to stealth mode and are trying to do an end run around the opposition.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That was attempted with Vorbis, and it was shot down because Apple and Nokia complained that there's risk there are submarine patents for it (oh, the irony), and also because the standards have never specified any specific format support before (which is annoying - how come that at least PNG and JPEG support aren't mandatory?).

        If that couldn't fly (and Vorbis had a much wider acceptance back then than WebM has now, the only major player for WebM really being YouTube), then forget about WebM becoming mandato

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>> Google - they've switched to stealth mode with WebM

        Just like they went quiet and are trying to do stealth-passage of CISPA (law that would allow the U.S. to spy on website and ISP history about their users) (no warrant required). I've since added Google to my boycott list, right underneath Microsoft. I won't be buying anything from these companies.

        BTW mozilla announced they are against CISPA. As far as I know the only major corporation that took that stance.

        • Just like they went quiet and are trying to do stealth-passage of CISPA

          Just like Hitler went quiet and tried to do a stealth-takeover of the world...

          Seriously, do you have no sense of perspective, or different levels of "things I dont like"? The one situation is not like the other.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>Why are we not hearing from WebM and Google anymore? Is the industry going to fall in like with h.264 the same way they have with other royalty-encumbered standards?

      MPEG4/h.264 is no more "encumbered" than MPEG4/AAC or MPEG2 video or MPEG2 Part 3 (MP3). I've never had any problems using these codecs and don't anticipate any problem with h.264. I'd rather have something that WORKS (like VHS, Bluray) than something that is barely-supported (like Betamax, HDdvd, SACD).

      Besides WebM looks pretty ba

      • by VMaN (164134)

        unencumbered means it can be implemented without paying royalties. That's kind of a big deal in many projects. h.264 does have a royalty free (read market maximization) period for some uses/volumes right now, but they aren't permanent.

        As for quality, it's fully up to par with mpeg4 afaik.

        To take a project that /. is familiar with, the raspberry pi, a significant chunk of it's price goes directly to codec royalties.

        I don't mind h.264 being used, but I'd love to see WebM also, being free and all.

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          MPEG4 royalties aren't perment either.
          >>> WebM is fully up to par with mpeg4 afaik.

          To quote "the_other_chewy": It really isn't. VP8's quality is comparable to that of H.264's Main Profile but H.264 High Profile eats VP8 for breakfast in bitrate-limited scenarios, meaning about 800 kilobit/s for SD content. But even at around 1,5Mbit/s, it's really obvious to the trained and still visible to the untrained eye. Yes, I actually have done double-blind tests.

          vpxenc is still very young, so improvemen

        • WebM ins't on par with h.264, and there are numerous comparisons/reviews that say as much. I've never seen one that claimed they were equal.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          VP8 isnt on par with H.264, but even if it were (which again, it is not) ...

          Both are yesterdays technology.. tomorrows technology is literally just around the corner. H.265 is scheduled for completion this year and is expected to HALVE the bitrate for the same quality.

          This is the nail-in-the-coffin problem that dooms standardizing on either H.264 or VP8. While some would like to argue that VP8 is "good enough" compared to H.264, they are ignoring the real problem. "Good enough" when the cherry-picked r
    • Re:Sanity prevails (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZorinLynx (31751) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:53AM (#40998409) Homepage

      This is not a battle we can win.

      Everyone is using h.264. Not supporting it just makes your product inferior as it won't support as many websites as one that does.

      We are just going to have to deal with it. Eventually the patents will expire and it will no longer be a problem; we just have to make the mistake of not choosing an encumbered standard NEXT TIME once h.264 is obsolete.

      • by ZorinLynx (31751)

        I need coffee. I meant to NOT make the mistake of CHOOSING an encumbered standard.

      • by tobiasly (524456)

        Eventually the patents will expire and it will no longer be a problem; we just have to (not) make the mistake of not choosing an encumbered standard NEXT TIME once h.264 is obsolete.

        Yeah, that would be a shame [gizmodo.com].

      • by paxcoder (1222556)

        Who is "we"? And how do we refuse the patent-encumbered standard next time? How is next time more appropriate than right now?

      • by Kjella (173770)

        We are just going to have to deal with it. Eventually the patents will expire and it will no longer be a problem; we just have to make the mistake of not choosing an encumbered standard NEXT TIME once h.264 is obsolete.

        Doubtful, the work on HEVC is already in draft status and will probably be submitted for final approval in January 2013. That said, the significance is going down, for example I don't think many people outside technical communities care much about MP3 vs AAC vs OGG Vorbis anymore. With fiber and other superbroadband rolling out H.264 vs HEVC might not make that huge a difference. I know at least with myself that I manage to download everything I want just fine with H.264, sure it'd be nice if it took half t

  • WebM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tufriast (824996) * on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:14AM (#40997909)
    No offense, but what happened to the "WebM is super double plus good, and all we're gonna nom-nom on" dogma that was touted? I'm happy that they are adding support for H.264, but after all this baby mama drama, what was the point? I'm wondering what happened internally to reverse this choice. Was it a matter of "the world has moved on" or "we're just gonna make the best UX possible" that drove the decision?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      No offense, but what happened to the "WebM is super double plus good, and all we're gonna nom-nom on" dogma that was touted? I'm happy that they are adding support for H.264, but after all this baby mama drama, what was the point? I'm wondering what happened internally to reverse this choice. Was it a matter of "the world has moved on" or "we're just gonna make the best UX possible" that drove the decision?

      Probably practicality.

      First, it's mobile Firefox, not main desktop Firefox. Effectively all smartphone

      • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

        by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@@@project-retrograde...com> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @12:00PM (#40998521)

        And then there's folks like me, who need to render out video from their games, and would like to enable end users to click a button and have the replay of game footage uploaded to youtube (or placed in a folder) -- because I need to make the video w/o screen recorders myself anyway. I have a plugin system for handling the video encoding so I can create multiple encoders, but the only encoder I can actually AFFORD to ship is WebM (or Theora, but I only have so much time)... I'm using Google's code at current in my WebM plugin implementation, but I've seen many cases where I could create GPU shaders to do WebM encoding or decoding more efficiently than they do... My software is a Game, so I can rely on the minimum GPU specs being higher than WebM can afford at present. I don't see any reason that WebM couldn't detect the shader support and use hardware decoding over CPU decoding if available.

        As mobiles get more powerful shader support, and heterogeneous computing becomes more pervasive, I don't see any reason to choose H.264 over WebM -- The patent and licensing BS of H.264 are enough to swing my vote to WebM. "Hardware Decoding" out of the box doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot if either decoder is running on the GPU... It's really all about adoption. Google didn't get GPU MFGs on board for their implementation for whatever reason, so we have H.264 "in hardware"
        o_O (I suspect this means it's in that binary blob that gets uploaded to the GPU, so "in firmware" would be a better name for it).

        I wonder what sort of license Mozilla has? I mean, Will I still be able to compile my own Firefox and get H.264 support via their licensing deal? Actually this isn't "Mozilla" it's just some dude who works for Mozilla. It would be like a Ford factor line worker adding hydros to her personal Mustang, then someone headilnes: Ford is experimenting with crazy-ass Hydrolic lift kits on new Mustangs!

        • I need to make the video w/o screen recorders myself anyway... I don't see any reason to choose H.264 over WebM

          On iOS, you'd be daft to use WebM instead of h.264.

          h.264 ENCODING is free on iOS, and also in fact far better for the user because just like decoding, it's hardware accelerated. Do you want to wait 10 minutes to encode that video, or ten seconds?

          Not to mention consumption of battery life...

          I have to think that the situation is the same on Android devices, do they not ship with h.264 hardware encod

        • And the ability to play one video file (h.264) on everything I own is enough to swing my support for h.264. I'd rather not have to transcode videos just because someone had a philosophical issue that doesn't have any other tangible effect than fear mongering.

        • by gsnedders (928327)

          Mozilla has no license at all. Virtually all mobiles have hardware decoding (in form of a DSP --- I'm unaware of any using the GPU) for H.264, so the license has already been paid for.

          This is for *Android Firefox* as the subject says --- you'll be able to build your own Firefox (for Android) and you'll have H.264 support. This does *nothing* for Windows/OS X/Linux/other-OS-here.

      • by hellop2 (1271166)
        Doncha think it might have something to do with Flash being dropped (and with it in-browser H.264 decoding)?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      As Windows XP marketshare dwindles, the main platform that doesn't have H.264 built-in, there's less users to stick up for.
      I still don't see this being on by default for desktop Firefox until after April 2014 (longer if Microsoft are pressured into extending XP support beyond that).

    • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

      by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @11:50AM (#40998377) Journal

      This [slashdot.org] happened. [slashdot.org]

      Mozilla bloggery [mozilla.org] indicates that, at least on mobile platforms, WebM is just a non-starter. H.264 is already out there in hardware (all bastard patents tidily licensed, all i's dotted, all t's crossed); WebM wasn't getting any traction; and Google didn't look all that serious. (Protip, Google: if you threaten to pull H.264 support in Chrome in order to strengthen WebM's hand, you need to follow through within at least a couple of years. Otherwise, you just look like a poser chump.)

      Mozilla was supporting Google's play, and Google stopped playing.

      I think it boils down to "the mobile world has moved on".

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Protip, Google: if you threaten to pull H.264 support in Chrome in order to strengthen WebM's hand, you need to follow through within at least a couple of years. Otherwise, you just look like a poser chump.

        It's called a "credible threat", the H.264 licenses are slump change for Google today. But with YouTube and all they are at a high risk of paying a lot in the future. So they let the MPEG-LA know that if they do pull crap on Google, then Google will go WebM. Lo and behold, the H.264 licensing costs are still reasonable and Google didn't actually want to go through with it. The only people who were played for chumps here is Mozilla, who jumped at it slashdot does whenever someone threatens to move to Linux t

    • Most (all?) Android SoCs do not have hardware support for WebM. If they did, Mozilla would gladly add support for them. If they did it protest anyway though a software decoder, your battery would dead in a few hours of decoding (which would make it a pointless implementation)

    • by hkmwbz (531650)

      No offense, but what happened to the "WebM is super double plus good, and all we're gonna nom-nom on" dogma that was touted?

      What happened was that the business interests that want a closed web once again won a victory against the open web. Apple, Microsoft, and more. WebM was a nice try, but the proprietary H.264 was already established.

  • Nor will the latest Firefox run on my Pentium 4 PC. So much for the original goal: To split from Mozilla Application Suite/Communicater/Seamonkey and design a lightweight browser that uses minimal resources.

    I'm currently on version 10. If things don't change by the next LTS/ESR release (17?) I will be leaving the browser behind and switching to a lightweight distribution backed by programmers that are not CPU/memory hogs.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Firefox 10 runs on my P200MMX under SliTaz Linux. It runs slowly, but it definitely runs.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>> It runs slowly, but it definitely runs.

        Same here. Firefox does "run" but it freezes randomly for 2-3 minutes while it does... whatever it does in the background. Same as Google Chrome does. It reminds me of my old G4 Mac trying to run OS 10.5 (slowly).

        I wonder why it's so difficult for these programmers to make something run with minimal memory? I suspect they are not even trying to "optimize" anymore due to the rapid release schedule & that's causing the bloat. You shouldn't need a

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          You shouldn't need a gig of RAM just to open two tabs.

          You don't. Firefox has been running for about ten days here with about 20 tabs open and is using 300MB of RAM.

          • by EmagGeek (574360)

            Mine's been running since this morning with 6 tabs open and is sitting right at 1.6GB.

            • I'm guessing you either have a number of image laden sites open or you are running Firefox 14 or earlier with at least a few add-ons. I say that because I saw similar behavior before I switched over to Firefox 15. The changes they made to force memory release from add-ons keeps Firefox from holding on to memory that really isn't in use. Now the memory usage stays below 200MB unless I'm actually on a page that uses up a lot of memory (such as one that loads up a number of images.)

              I think people will be much

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Don't forget that web site code is getting more bloated, and CSS designs can be more complex than table-based layouts. It takes more memory to render a modern web page, for good or bad, and the browser passes that on to you.

    • The latest Firefox runs great on my 900mhz Celeron. No joke.

    • I declare shenanigans! This conspiracy of not automatically updating the hardware of obsolete devices must be rooted out!
    • by Nemyst (1383049)

      My Commodore 64 won't run Firefox! This is an outrage!

    • by g8oz (144003)

      Try Opera. Seriously.

  • Not good news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Distributing software that can decode H.264 costs money.

    Making H.264 the de facto standard means only rich companies will be able to develop web browsers (or other devices/services that play H.264).

    Would we have had the same amount of competition if other web formats/standards required paying licenses? (stuff like JPG, PNG, GIF, JS, ...)

  • I wish Flash is continued to be supported until more website convert more of their content to HTML5 or some type of fallback to view flash based content.

  • Maybe they think this is a dealbreaker on phones since they are energy limited and thus any competitive browser can't afford not to have hardware accelerated media playing, but, I'd also like to see this on the desktop.
    I certainly don't have any interest in H.264 but I'm just practical. Would it be difficult and/or put Mozilla in a legally complicated situation to use the OS facilities for playing H.264 on PCs?. If the tag is gonna replace Flash for playing videos it'd be very good to have this.
  • ...I'll be upgrading my girlfriend to Firefox v277.86, her brain having been replaced by Android (no great loss, trust me)...

  • It's almost like the Firefox folks want to make a useful web browser.

    I am so impressed.

    Who knows?  Maybe one day they'll let me download files to the directory of my choice.  Or move updates to a more convenient time than *when I want to use my web browser* on open.

    Or be fast.

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