announced a developer preview of video iFrames that use HTML5 when viewed in a browser that supports it. The move seems to represent a big shift in policy from multiple statements the company made just last month criticizing HTML5.The battle between Adobe Flash and HTML5 will extend into YouTube video players embedded around the web, now that Google has
Google began experimenting with HTML5 players on the YouTube site itself in January, but offering HTML5 for the embedded players all over the web is a big step. For users, each new publishing platform that supports HTML5 instead of Flash-only means Apple devices will be able to display that content, that advanced capabilities of the new format will be available and that, according to Flash critics, our devices will run faster and with fewer crashes.
Users of Chrome on a Mac may also be able to view embedded YouTube videos without wanting to throw our computers into the street in front of oncoming traffic in frustration.
A 180 Degree Turn?
Alex Chitu at the blog Google Operating System points out that it was just a month ago that a YouTube spokesperson said Flash was the only format that supported the kinds of security features that the company considered essential.
Last month YouTube engineer John Harding argued against HTML5 as well. Our own Mike Melanson summarized his arguments like this:
HTML5 video doesn't have the more robust features like camera and microphone access, content protection... HTML5 also lacks the 'robust video streaming' necessary for streaming full movies and live events, as has become more and more common on YouTube. Beyond these features, Flash offers a single video format, whereas the battle over HTML5 video formats (for which Google's recently introduced WebM as one solution) has not yet been won. This means Flash video can be used wherever Flash is installed, while HTML5 depends on video format and browser - an unacceptable condition for YouTube's vast user base.
There's a large ecosystem of development and streaming software built up around Flash as well, not to mention the huge amount of content already published in Flash. The battle between these formats is far from over.
Apparently something has changed and YouTube decided to give it a shot after all.
YouTube says it is testing the feature with developers before offering it to the public at large, and seeks feedback. The announcement included the following example of a video displayed with its new one-line embed code that displays in HTML5 first, if your browser supports it. Update: I'm not clear why, but for some reason this demo video appears to be playing in Flash and not HTML5 after all. Odd.