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Safari Users Unable to Play Newer 4K Video On YouTube in Native Resolution ( 124

It appears Google recently turned on VP9 codec on YouTube for delivering 4K video. However, because of this, Safari users are unable to watch videos uploaded to the service since early December in full 4K resolution. From a report: Specifically, YouTube appears to be storing video on its servers using either the more efficient VP9 codec or the older H.264 codec. Safari only supports the latter, which explains why recently uploaded 4K videos are only able to be viewed in up to 1440p. Funnily enough, the same videos can be streamed by Safari in native 4K as long as they're embedded in another website, suggesting that the VP9 codec support requirement only applies to videos viewed directly on YouTube's website. Until Apple updates Safari to support the VP9 codec, Mac users who want to access newer 4K video on YouTube in native 2160p resolution are advised to use a different browser.John Gruber of DaringFireball writes, "I'm curious what Google's thinking is here. My guess: a subtle nudge to get more Mac users to switch from Safari to Chrome. 4K playback is going to require H.264 support if they want it to work on iOS, though."
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Safari Users Unable to Play Newer 4K Video On YouTube in Native Resolution

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because "4K" is going to mean something on devices that don't have those screens.

    Don't even bother mentioning video output; the Lightning adapter can barely handle 1600x900.
    • why would anyone use the lightning adapter for playback on a TV? just airplay it to an apple tv

      • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 17, 2017 @01:23PM (#53683637) Homepage Journal

        Because a Lightning adapter is cheaper than an Apple TV.

        But then because of limited throughput over Lightning, the Lightning adapter uses AirPlay protocol anyway [], and it isn't even full 1080p.

        • by Scoth ( 879800 )

          A couple years ago, my ex-wife wanted to stream from an iThingie to HDMI, and when we looked it up the adapter to do so was a kind of shocking $50. A whole Apple TV was $65. So we ended up just buying an Apple TV and getting a lot more functionality for not that much more money.

          Still wasn't 4k.

        • by MassacrE ( 763 )

          Not true and not true.

          The confusion comes in that both Airplay and the Lightning adapter use the platform H.264 encoding to stream the video. The iPad Mini they were testing couldn't handle 1080p MPEG encoding in hardware - but it would stream 1080p pre-encoded video just fine, for instance - it isn't a limitation of the cable throughput.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            If the throughput were unlimited, the iPad would be sending an uncompressed stream. The H.264 is used because the throughput is limited.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You've clearly never seen over-air streaming. There's no point in 4k.

      • ATV does not support 4k. It uses HDMI 1.4 "The Future of Televisions is here" and it is 1080p without HDR.
        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          it is 1080p without HDR.

          Only select 4K sets support HDR. It may be the only reason to get 4K before OLEDs become reasonably priced.

          • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

            Only select 4K sets support HDR

            If by "select" you mean the majority of 4K 2016 TVs over $500 and the majority of 4K TVs period to be sold in 2017, sure...

            And I guess it may depend on your definition of "reasonable", but 2017 will see some pretty affordable OLEDs from LG.

            • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
              Don't be confused, UHD is not HDR, and there are a lot of UHD sets out there. Walking through my local stores, most HDR sets start above $900 for 50 inch sets. Reasonable is a 65+ inch screen preferably under $2K. OLED 4K HDR is no where near that price point yet, at least not as of last year. LG just entered the market last year, and is set to make some serious price waves this year. I'm looking forward to it.
              • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

                No worries, I'm not confused... and don't need to walk through any stores, I have (almost) one of every 2016 (and upcoming 2017) 4K TV models in my office. And in fact I am going to LG's offices tomorrow to do some HDR quality analysis on their upcoming OLEDs ;)

                I suppose it was a bit of an exaggeration to say "majority" of 4K TVs over $500, though AFAIK all of LG's 2016 support HDR, down to the $499 42UH6100. But other manufacturers haven't been quite as aggressive...

                That said, there is a big difference b

                • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

                  Thanks for an informative reply. One of the best I've seen to date.

                  I too am in the market for a new OLED TV, total nits don't mean much to me if the color etc aren't accurate. A high nit value fluorescent pink screen just doesn't do blue irises justice. Sounds like the Dolby Vision certification is something that will be a decider, unless there's a quality TV line out there that matches those sets without the certification. Calibration can only take a substandard set so far after all.

    • I just grepped the summary for 'iOS' and it didn't find a single mention.

      You know that Safari is a browser on macOS too, right? And that there is even an iMac shipping with a display better than 4K? To say nothing about plugging 4K displays into Macs that have sufficient hardware to drive them?

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        iOS second to last word in TFS.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          And the iPad Pro has a display 2732x2048 pixels in size. It's not quite 3840x2160 (home 4K-class res), but it's still bigger than 1920x1080.

          • But it's only marginally bigger than 2560x1440, which is apparently what will be played using Safari and H.264.
    • What are you saying? That 4K has no meaning on my 320x240 screen?
    • I am UNABLE to play YouTube. Period. In Windows 10. And the new computer I purchased to the effect was stolen BEFORE I could even start it safely away from hackers. OK, I can go back to IE 8 EMULATION and see some YouTube, but it is a NUISANCE and does not hold for long. Definitely this industry needs a consortium and standardize the video tools. I need so much to be able to programmatically handle my videos but it seems impossible and more impossible the more time passes and advancements...
  • 640 bytes oughtta be enough for any shaky cat video. -Bill Catts

  • iOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2017 @01:20PM (#53683605)

    Do any iOS devices even have native (hardware decoding) support of h.265 let alone VP9?

    • No, but their resolution doesn't come anywhere near 4K, either.

    • Re:iOS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shawn Parr ( 712602 ) <<moc.rrapnwahs> <ta> <rrap>> on Tuesday January 17, 2017 @01:27PM (#53683659) Homepage Journal
      The iPhone 6 (A8 processor) and newer can natively encode/decode H.265 in hardware. However there is no API for 3rd parties to access it currently for some reason. The only place in practice it gets used is in FaceTime calls between users with the capable hardware.
      • Unless the rights holders can resolve the licensing mess for H.265, it looks dead in the water. ATM, VP9 looks like the best game in town for HD or higher compression encoding. Licensing may well have something to do with why there is no third-party API.
        • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

          Dead in the water!? Umm, Ultra HD Blu Rays have been out for almost a year, and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, VUDU, Fandango, etc (even DirectTV and Dish have a few) have been using H.265 for UHD streaming for longer than that. All 4K TVs, STBs, and the recent 4K game console updates support H.265 decoding.

          It may be a licensing mess, but it's one that *will* get resolved, just as it did with H.264...

  • Web (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This says more about the sad state of the web than anything else.

    Remember the big stink that was made about video support on HTML5? How it was going to make flash obsolete and whatnot?

    Well, you should look at a matrix of supported formats for HTML5 video. Long story short, only h.264 is well supported out of the box by every browser (desktop + mobile).

    VP9 and Theora are not supported by Edge nor Safari. h.265, IIRC, needs plugins on Firefox and Chrome. The picture is even bleaker on mobile.

    Codec support is

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Back when HTML5 video had been announced, there were multiple competing video formats, mostly Theora and H.264. Theora was the format built by the Xiph organisation, without any patent restrictions or payments. H.264 on the other hand, was built by companies like Apple, or Fraunhofer, and enforces obligatory payments by a patent pool managed by the MPEG LA. As Apple had stakes in it, they obviously only supported H.264.

    In the end, the format wars were decided in the favour of H.264, as iphones didn't suppor

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe of note, VP9 and H.265 are fully supported in hardware by Kaby lake processors.

  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2017 @01:57PM (#53683821)

    4k is good for video editing, it is good if you watch blockbuster movies on a bigass screen, but for YouTube videos on your computer, really? It is a tech demo, there is little use for it.
    To enjoy 4k, you need a monitor that supports it, that is large enough relative to the viewing distance, enough bandwidth and processing power. You also need a 4k source. Few people produce 4k video : it is more expensive, more difficult and the result is only marginally better.
    If you manage to check all the boxes, then the browser is the least of your worries.

    One day, maybe 4k will actually bring something, but it is a bit too soon. Still, it's interesting how far ahead Apple is when it comes to removing stuff (floppy drive, ethernet port, headphone jack, ...) but not so much when it comes to actually support the technology of the future.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      thats the stuff courage is made of.

    • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Tuesday January 17, 2017 @02:20PM (#53683947) Homepage

      To enjoy 4k, you need a monitor that supports it, that is large enough relative to the viewing distance, enough bandwidth and processing power. You also need a 4k source. Few people produce 4k video : it is more expensive, more difficult and the result is only marginally better.

      I think you'll find these boxes are checked more and more.

      On the consuming side, 4K monitors are coming down in price very quickly and are at the point where it's reasonable for the layperson to get one. 4K makes a notable difference on a 24" monitor at the common 2-3' distance -- anyone who says otherwise has bad eyesight or hasn't used one yet. Bandwidth-wise 4K uses about 20-30mbit, which is a lot of users these days. With H.265 they should be able to drop that number considerably for most videos.

      On the production side, 4K video is already becoming increasingly more common on YouTube as the latest inexpensive professional and amateur cameras -- even phones and gopros -- all support 4K. Editing really isn't much different versus 1080p -- it's not like they're using rendering farms to create special effects.

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        It just makes me laugh when people talk about 4K encoding from a phone. Why bother? The quality is shit.

    • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

      To enjoy 4k, you need a monitor that supports it, that is large enough relative to the viewing distance, enough bandwidth and processing power. You also need a 4k source. Few people produce 4k video : it is more expensive, more difficult and the result is only marginally better.

      Yes. Flipping that video option toggle on the iPhone 6SE, 6s, 6s plus, etc. is so expensive and difficult. I can't believe I was able to accomplish it myself...

    • 4K video is hardly the future, its right up there with 3D TV, Curved Screens, Smart TV.

      Its a check box for sales people to convince the uninformed they must spend more money on something they will not actually benefit from []

      ALL consumers would benefit with better quality programming , but the race to the bottom is on. Advertising revenue is down, costs are up, so quality is sacrificed to fit into that budget. We get re-runs, "re-boots", reality TV and other complete dro
      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        4K video is hardly the future, its right up there with 3D TV, Curved Screens, Smart TV.

        The reason 4K will succeed is HDR. That actually adds value that people can see. Otherwise, the only thing 4K helps with is addressing some of the shortcomings of those cheap LED/LCD based TVs (smaller pixels means less noticeable artifacts, but they're still there)

    • One day, maybe 4k will actually bring something, but it is a bit too soon.

      That's all relative. There's these things called early adopters. There's already a hell of a lot of 4K TVs, and if you're inclined 4K monitors which are more likely to benefit from the resolution. The bandwidth isn't too bad, and if it is you can get 4K blurays of popular movies. Processing power is trivial and even a couple of year old computer can do it without hardware support ... which is steadily increasing.

      There's also these things called laggards who will only adopt once 100% of content is produced i

    • To enjoy 4k, you need a monitor that supports it, that is large enough relative to the viewing distance, enough bandwidth and processing power.

      Bear in mind that the bulk of Apple's Mac lineup uses HiDPI screens these days. The iMac is 4K/5K depending on size, the MacBook is 1440p, the MacBook Pro is 1600p/1800p depending on size, and the Mac Pro was meant to be used with 4K displays. So not only are these Macs all plenty capable of meeting the technical requirements for 4K, but 1080p is outright sub-native

  • As I deal with the constant issues with Android (late/missing OS updates, poor software availability, inconsistent mess of an interface) I keep trying to remember why I ever dumped iOS. Then Apple pulls shit like refusing to ship a codec that every other browser supports. I don't care at all about 4K, but it's nice to be able to view WebM videos embedded in Wikpedia pages.
    • by Malc ( 1751 )

      WebM isn't a codec. There are ways to get Safari to decode VP8/9 via a plugin, but they don't have hardware support unlike H.264/5. HEVC has better quality at 4K and better tools than VP9 anyway.

  • Who cares?
  • video clip in the article:
    D:\_learning>youtube-dl.exe -F [] ...
    266 mp4 3840x2160 DASH video 11632k , avc1.640033, 24fps, video only, 152.17MiB
    313 webm 3840x2160 DASH video 16250k , vp9, 24fps, video only, 175.23MiB ...

    so 4K is indeed just hidden in the YT player, but present in the manifest

  • Brings back memories back when I was editing videos few years back...
    Things were working fine and all with the Adobe suite with desktop PCs running Windows 7 or something, when out of the blue one of my bosses caught the Apple bug and decided to buy an iMac and start using Final Cut Pro out of nowhere.

    Might not sound like much, but here in Brazil anything Apple related is expensive as hell. It's seen as a luxury.

    I mean, it was a great learning experience for me, and we had the extra time since work was plen

  • Google is probably thinking that they shouldn't be beholden to a browser with less than 4% share of the market.
  • "I'm curious what Google's thinking is here." My guess: bandwidth conservation. VP9 is much more efficient than H.264. Sending bits costs Google money, so sending fewer of them is something that they want.

"Well, if you can't believe what you read in a comic book, what *can* you believe?!" -- Bullwinkle J. Moose