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YouTube ditches Flash and improves picture quality

28 Jan 2015 | Rasmus Larsen |

Flash is being replaced by modern alternatives, and YouTube is the latest to ditch its Flash player in modern web browsers. This will improve picture quality to better HD and even 4K, as well as improve the YouTube experience significantly.

YouTube switches to HTML5 video

Tired of buffering and poor video quality on YouTube? Starting yesterday, you will see significant improvements on YouTube when accessing it in the browser from the latest Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari 8 or the latest beta versions of Firefox.

YouTube is ditching Flash for a new HTML5-based player, which combines several technologies to improve the experience. Google’s VP9 codec will let you start videos “15-80 percent faster”, and reduce bandwidth by “35 percent”, making it possible to stream higher-quality video at your current internet speed. This will allow more people to access 4K and HD at 60fps, too, Google says.

YouTube HTML5 player with VP9


Google has streamed “hundreds of billions of VP9 videos” to date, but the new player is the change that will really bring VP9 to the masses. VP9 will also be integrated in 2015 Smart TVs for the first time, allowing you to stream YouTube in 4K on the big screen.

The project started four years ago, but is now ready for prime time with the addition of EME (Encrypted Media Extensions), Common Encryption and ABR (adaptive bitrate). The same technologies have made it possible to live-stream YouTube on game consoles and devices such as Chromecast, Google explains.

Video players based on Flash and Silverlight have been on the decline for years, but many streaming video providers continue to use them. The major turning point for Flash came after Apple introduced its iPad without Flash. Steve Jobs published his famous “Thoughts on Flash”, which was seen as controversial at the time, but time has proven that he was right.

It has been possible to select the new player for some time, but if you use an updated browser you will now automatically get the new improved YouTube player. The Flash player will only show up old browsers. So update!



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