Adobe's Flash player, once the dominant online video delivery tool, may soon be a thing of the past as Google this week announced that YouTube videos will now by default use HTML5 embedded videos.
YouTube's HTML5 video support has long been available, but users had to specifically choose to use the HTML5 player (unless they used Google's Chrome browser, which used the HTML5 player by default). This week, Google flicked the switch to make HTML5 videos the default choice for all users of IE 11, Safari 8 and beta versions of Firefox.
The benefit to using HTML5, as outlined by the official blog post announcing these changes, goes far beyond no longer needing a third-party plug-in like Flash. Adaptive Bitrate streaming, which dynamically adjusts the bitrate/picture quality based on network conditions, is one feature that HTML5 supports, but isn't available with Flash. According to YouTube "ABR has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks."
Other benefits include the support of the Google backed VP9 video codec, a more efficient codec that will allow 4K content delivery at vastly reduced bitrates.