Safari not able to play new 4K videos from YouTube homepage, likely due to VP9 shift

Posted:
in General Discussion
What appears to be Google's shift to the VP9 codec for delivering 4K video on the YouTube homepage is preventing Safari users from watching videos uploaded to the service since early December in full 4K resolution, but not from viewing webpage-embedded videos in the same resolution.




The shift appears to have taken place on Dec. 6, according to a Reddit thread delving into the issue. Google has been pushing the open and royalty-free VP9 codec as an alternative to the paid H.265 spec since 2014, but has never said that it would stop offering 4K video on the YouTube site in other formats, like the Apple-preferred H.264.

Videos uploaded to the service prior to Dec. 6 in 4K resolution can still play back in full 4K resolution on Safari from the YouTube homepage. Additionally, Mac users utilizing Chrome still have the ability to play back new videos in 4K, as Safari is the only holdout among the major browsers that doesn't support the codec.

However, further confusing the issue, a new video embedded in a webpage such as the 4K video of the Apple Campus flyover from Wednesday, can still be played back in the embed in 4K. Shifting to the YouTube homepage to view the video reverts to a maximum 1440p resolution.




Apple Campus drone flyover, uploaded January 12, note lack of 4K option on YouTube homepage





4K video of Apple Campus posted in October, note 4K option on YouTube homepage


The issue manifests on all Apple hardware, regardless of OS revision, or Safari version. Specific platforms tested by AppleInsider include a 2012 Retina MacBook Pro, a 2016 Retina MacBook Pro, and a Mac Pro with 4K display.

"We haven't supported VP9 in Safari," we were told by a representative from Apple corporate. "[Google] has seemingly made a conscious decision to not stream H.264 4K video to Apple users from the YouTube homepage, when it clearly could if it chose to."

We have reached out to Google regarding the matter, and have yet to receive a response.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?


    yojimbo007johnbearbrian green
  • Reply 2 of 42
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,319member
    Golly!
    Something limiting or disappointing about Safari???
    I'm shocked!
    /s
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 42
    I thought google had given up on VP9? Seems not.  Nice strategy.  Aim for dominance in a niche that could become mainstream in the future.

    Google's play with VP9 is only possible because certain hardware makers have not yet invested in H.265.  
    edited January 12
  • Reply 4 of 42
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 431member
    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?
    Mainly because VP9 isn't implemented by any hardware acceleration chips. Apple likes to keep things as efficient as possible, but VP9 is basically an end-run around the H.264/H.265 patents (there would be no point to VP9 if H.265 was patent and royalty free). Nonetheless, the other issue that remains is that it could have patents asserted against it, but currently does not, much like H.264 and H.265 could also, but they're less susceptible, since the consortium bears the cost of defending against patent trolls.
    Solihlee1169pscooter63jkichlinestompyRayz2016
  • Reply 5 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,550member
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?
    Is that a serious post? I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or clueless about the legal pitfalls and performance issues with these so-called "open" codecs.
    bartfatpscooter63davenmonstrositylostkiwiStrangeDaysRayz2016brian greenjustadcomics
  • Reply 6 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,550member

    entropys said:
    I thought google had given up on VP9? Seems not.  Nice strategy.  Aim for dominance in a niche that could become mainstream in the future.

    Google's play with VP9 is only possible because certain hardware makers have not yet invested in H.265.  
    Not only have they not given up on it, but they've doubled down on it.
    brian green
  • Reply 7 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 4,597member
    Soli said:
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?
    Is that a serious post? I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or clueless about the legal pitfalls and performance issues with these so-called "open" codecs.
    Nope. Just trolling for trolling’s sake.
    justadcomics
  • Reply 8 of 42
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?


    Dont know about this particular issue... but Pride and ego  getting in the way of Apple doing the right thing is not a new phenomenon.... 
    edited January 12 tokyojimusingularity
  • Reply 9 of 42
    What gets lost in the comments blaming one or the other company for pride or whatever is - what's best for the consumer. Does anyone care? Or is it always what's best for the company?
    StrangeDaysavon b7justadcomics
  • Reply 10 of 42
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,142member
    The issue is VP9 is googles attempt to workaround patents because they don't believe they should pay to use them. It's already been discussed that that VP9 may just be a ripoff of H.264 and can have intellectual property issues. Apple, for effciency of mobile devices, desires a standard that can be decoded in hardware for performance and battery life. It pays into the consortium to be a legitimate partner in the development of open source technology where companies work together for the common good.
    apple jockeypscooter63Rayz2016brian greenjustadcomicsnobelpeaceprize
  • Reply 11 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,550member
    MnMark said:
    What gets lost in the comments blaming one or the other company for pride or whatever is - what's best for the consumer. Does anyone care? Or is it always what's best for the company?
    You're getting into a philopsohical discussion. In a free market the company always does what it believes is best for its own interests. Ideally this would lead to the best options for customer being the most popular. With software (which includes algorithms as an instance of logic written in software) this gets more convoluted, and that's without adding to the mix the current issues with patents.

    Google doesn't want to pay royalties to licensors—and who can blame them?—but it does lead to issues for customers and potential anti-trust issues if this forces those wanting to continue to use YouTube to then install a Google made OS or browser in order to watch content. AV1 seems better suited to challenge HEVC and its potentially high costs, but like we've seen before the threat of MPEG patent holders losing ground opened up the rights considerably so AV1 may never actual gain any real ground while still being impactful.

  • Reply 12 of 42
    MnMark said:
    What gets lost in the comments blaming one or the other company for pride or whatever is - what's best for the consumer. Does anyone care? Or is it always what's best for the company?
    I care a bunch. Performance is the issue for me, and of course quality. I could give a flip if it is only half as large as a 4K that uses a different codec. Apple (and their consumers) have a large enough presence on the internet that if we all use something besides Google products then Gaggle will knuckle under and add 4K HD support the same way they did with HTML5. I really don't want to see Apple tied to some proprietary codec again - anyone remember Flash.
    justadcomics
  • Reply 13 of 42
    Soli said:
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?
    Is that a serious post? I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or clueless about the legal pitfalls and performance issues with these so-called "open" codecs.
    lkrupp said:
    Nope. Just trolling for trolling’s sake.

    Well, thanks for the insults. Apparently those of us who are not acquainted with CODEC licensing issues are beneath you? Or worse, deliberately disruptive?

    @Rotateleftbyte, I thought your question was reasonable. I'm having problems with Apple not supporting a couple common and widely used CODECS. Two of their choices over the last couple years have had a serious impact on me, so I'm interested in knowing what's going on at Apple around choosing what they support, what they don't, and the reasons for the choices.
    edited January 12
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Soli said:
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?
    Is that a serious post? I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or clueless about the legal pitfalls and performance issues with these so-called "open" codecs.
    lkrupp said:
    Nope. Just trolling for trolling’s sake.

    Well, thanks for the insults. Apparently those of us who are not acquainted with CODEC licensing issues are beneath you? Or worse, deliberately disruptive?

    @Rotateleftbyte, I thought your question was reasonable. I'm having problems with Apple not supporting a couple common and widely used CODECS. Two of their choices over the last couple years have had a serious impact on me, so I'm interested in knowing what's going on at Apple around choosing what they support, what they don't, and the reasons for the choices.
    There are a lot of third party and open source utilities that do a lot of video conversions. Try to get these instead of questioning Apple's policies. I am comfortable with Apple's broad inventory of both professional and consumer-level codecs. For a couple of rip-off, non-standard, unsupported, abandoned wild codecs third party utilities always do the job...
  • Reply 15 of 42
    So Google is saying, we are better at this stuff than you so fall into line and use the VP9 codec.
    Get on message Apple.

    AFAIK, VP9 is Open and royalty free
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VP9

    so why can't Apple adopt it? Pride?


    Not pride, patent. Apple cannot just take a rip-off codec and implement it at the hardware level. If it does, then it will face an avalanch of patent lawsuits. Let Google implement that codec into the Chromebook hardware and see what happens next...
  • Reply 16 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,817member
    jkichline said:
    The issue is VP9 is googles attempt to workaround patents because they don't believe they should pay to use them. It's already been discussed that that VP9 may just be a ripoff of H.264 and can have intellectual property issues. Apple, for effciency of mobile devices, desires a standard that can be decoded in hardware for performance and battery life. It pays into the consortium to be a legitimate partner in the development of open source technology where companies work together for the common good.
    Apple doesn't support H.265 support either. Why? Like Google they refuse to pay for it. The royalties and open patent questions surrounding it are a problem. There's also no evidence whatsoever that VP9 is treading on IP controlled by the H.264 consortium AFAIK.  Did you read something different? 
    singularity
  • Reply 17 of 42
    This is likely a play by Google to drive the adoption of Chrome. I got rid of that pathetic browser a long time ago freeing up substantial bandwidth and restoring good performance to my iPhone. 

    I don't use YouTube for much other than how to videos and repair projects. I would rather go to a legitimate source for content such as iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and DIRECTV. The 4K support by YouTube is a non-issue for me. 

    And if people stop watching YouTube, Google will step up to the plate. 

    I am certain that Facebook supports H.264
    and that's far more important than whether YouTube does. 

    YouTube doesn't have that much clout. H.264 is standard and legal. VP9 is an attempt again by Google to usurp intellectual property. It is pathetic to watch a company like them resort to these types of unsavory and frankly pathetic practices.

     Once Facebook or Amazon develops an competitive model, I won't be using YouTube at all. 
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 18 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,550member
    gatorguy said:
    jkichline said:
    The issue is VP9 is googles attempt to workaround patents because they don't believe they should pay to use them. It's already been discussed that that VP9 may just be a ripoff of H.264 and can have intellectual property issues. Apple, for effciency of mobile devices, desires a standard that can be decoded in hardware for performance and battery life. It pays into the consortium to be a legitimate partner in the development of open source technology where companies work together for the common good.
    Apple doesn't support H.265 support either. Why? Like Google they refuse to pay for it. The royalties and open patent questions surrounding it are a problem. There's also no evidence whatsoever that VP9 is treading on IP controlled by the H.264 consortium AFAIK.  Did you read something different? 
    1) The technically support H.265 in iOS when both devices are an iPhone 6(?) series or better -and- when both are using cellular for FaceTime video calls. I'd like to think they did that to work out any issues before launching it for high-bitrate files, but the truth probably falls closer to not applying to high-bitrate, licensable video because of royalty licensing, whereas FaceTime calls are license and cost-free between users.

    2) Whether there is evidence or not, the threat of VP infringing on MPEG and other patent holder's algorithms and codes are still very real. As we've seen with patent trolls, you can sit on even an unused patent for many years and then sue them in the Eastern District of Texas for royalties on every device ever sold. Google could have made their open license a writ of protection against any and all lawsuits that may arise from those that implement VP codecs. That said, every major company that designs processor architecture supports HW-based VP9 decoding, with some chips supporting HW-based VP9-encoding. Then you have AV1 coming as an extension of VP9 later this year with major backers like Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (YouTube) you probably have most of the video traffic being served, so that looks promising.
    edited January 12
  • Reply 19 of 42
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,817member
    Soli said:
    gatorguy said:
    jkichline said:
    The issue is VP9 is googles attempt to workaround patents because they don't believe they should pay to use them. It's already been discussed that that VP9 may just be a ripoff of H.264 and can have intellectual property issues. Apple, for effciency of mobile devices, desires a standard that can be decoded in hardware for performance and battery life. It pays into the consortium to be a legitimate partner in the development of open source technology where companies work together for the common good.
    Apple doesn't support H.265 support either. Why? Like Google they refuse to pay for it. The royalties and open patent questions surrounding it are a problem. There's also no evidence whatsoever that VP9 is treading on IP controlled by the H.264 consortium AFAIK.  Did you read something different? 
    1) The technically support H.265 in iOS when both devices are an iPhone 6(?) series or better -and- when both are using cellular for FaceTime video calls. I'd like to think they did that to work out any issues before launching it for high-bitrate files, but the truth probably falls closer to not applying to high-bitrate video because of royalty licensing, whereas FaceTime calls are license and cost-free between users.

    2) Whether there is evidence or not, the threat of VP8+ infringing on MPEG and other patent holder's algorithms and codes are still very real. As we've seen with patent trolls, you can sit on even an unused patent for many years and then sue them in the Eastern District of Texas for royalties on every device ever sold. That said, every major company that designs processor architecture supports HW-based VP9 decoding, with some chips supporting HW-based VP9-encoding. Then you have AV1 coming as an extension of VP9 later this year with major backers like Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (YouTube) you probably have most of the video traffic being served, so that looks promising.
    MPEG already settled with Google over VP8+ in 2015. That made all licensees of VP8 and /or WebM completely safe from any claim of patent infringement by the MPEG-LA H.264 consortium. That's why Microsoft finally had no excuse for not using VP8+ and took a license from Google for their Edge browser. Safari is the last hold-out among major browsers isn't it? 
    edited January 12
  • Reply 20 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 2,550member
    gatorguy said:
    Soli said:
    gatorguy said:
    jkichline said:
    The issue is VP9 is googles attempt to workaround patents because they don't believe they should pay to use them. It's already been discussed that that VP9 may just be a ripoff of H.264 and can have intellectual property issues. Apple, for effciency of mobile devices, desires a standard that can be decoded in hardware for performance and battery life. It pays into the consortium to be a legitimate partner in the development of open source technology where companies work together for the common good.
    Apple doesn't support H.265 support either. Why? Like Google they refuse to pay for it. The royalties and open patent questions surrounding it are a problem. There's also no evidence whatsoever that VP9 is treading on IP controlled by the H.264 consortium AFAIK.  Did you read something different? 
    1) The technically support H.265 in iOS when both devices are an iPhone 6(?) series or better -and- when both are using cellular for FaceTime video calls. I'd like to think they did that to work out any issues before launching it for high-bitrate files, but the truth probably falls closer to not applying to high-bitrate video because of royalty licensing, whereas FaceTime calls are license and cost-free between users.

    2) Whether there is evidence or not, the threat of VP8+ infringing on MPEG and other patent holder's algorithms and codes are still very real. As we've seen with patent trolls, you can sit on even an unused patent for many years and then sue them in the Eastern District of Texas for royalties on every device ever sold. That said, every major company that designs processor architecture supports HW-based VP9 decoding, with some chips supporting HW-based VP9-encoding. Then you have AV1 coming as an extension of VP9 later this year with major backers like Amazon, Netflix, and Alphabet (YouTube) you probably have most of the video traffic being served, so that looks promising.
    MPEG already settled with Google over VP8+ in 2015. That made all licensees of VP8 and /or WebM completely safe from any claim of patent infringement by the MPEG-LA H.264 consortium. That's why Microsoft finally had no excuse for not using VP8+ and took a license from Google for their Edge browser. Safari is the last hold-out among major browsers isn't it? 
    There's absolutely no way that MPEG settling with Google in 2015 means that there can be no other issues from MPEG or from any other potential patent holder. It's illogically to make any such claim.
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