YouTube has started rolling out HDR (High Dynamic Range) video support on mobile devices and iPhone X can now be added to the list. Is there hope for Apple TV, too?
YouTube HDR on iPhone X
High Dynamic Range is the next step in video, with its expanded luminance and color range for more lifelike images. However, it also puts strict requirements on the display used.
YouTube had already activated HDR on certain Android devices, including Pixel, Galaxy S8, and Xperia XZ Premium. The latest addition is the iPhone X, which also becomes the first device from Apple to support YouTube’s HDR. It does not appear to be available on iPhone 8 or iPad Pro yet.
To enjoy HDR video, the video must be shot and uploaded in the format. You can find examples on the HDR Channel.
Besides YouTube, Amazon, iTunes and Netflix offer video in the new video format on mobile devices.
What about Apple TV?
The development is interesting from a technical point of view since Google has chosen to develop its own VP9 video codec (to avoid paying royalties) rather than pick up the industry standard HEVC format. Furthermore, Google has decided to offer 4K video on YouTube only to devices that can decode VP9, and offer HDR video to devices with VP9-2 (profile 2).
Apple has so far rejected Google’s VP9 and has been using HEVC exclusively. That is why YouTube on Apple TV does not offer 4K or HDR quality. But how then is it possible on iPhone X?
The companies have yet to comment on the technical details but there are a few possibilities here. One possibility is that iPhone X can in fact decode VP9-2. Another possibility is that YouTube has started to make HDR video available in multiple formats.
We are still chasing details but it obviously begs the question: Is there hope for Apple TV, too?