Apple's iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus use H.265 codec for FaceTime over cellular

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2014
While Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have drawn attention for their new form factors and flashy Retina HD displays, the handsets boast substantial under-the-hood advancements, including support for the highly efficient H.265 video codec.




As seen on Apple's iPhone tech specs webpage, both the iPhone 6 and its larger iPhone 6 Plus sibling leverage next-generation H.265 technology, also known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), for encoding and decoding FaceTime video calls over cellular. The phones also support the older H.264 standard first championed by Apple with legacy devices like the Apple TV and third-generation iPad.

According to Matthew Fleming, an expert in the field of signals processing who spotted the new iPhone 6 feature, H.265 promises to deliver video quality identical to H.264 AVC at only half the bit rate. This translates into a massive overhead reduction much needed in constrained data systems like cellular networks.

"This has the potential to give Apple a serious advantage in the mobile video calling domain where bandwidth is at a premium," Fleming said.

Exactly how Apple is implementing H.265 is unknown at this time, but considering the feature is restricted to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, some speculate the new A8 SoC incorporates a specialized encoder/decoder module not present in older handsets. Further, Fleming points out that while Macs have the processing power to run software-based H.265 encoder/decoder solutions, portables usually require hardware integration.

The H.265 draft standard was first released by the Motion Pictures Expert Group in 2012, but has yet to see wide adoption in the consumer device market.




When Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller took the stage at Tuesday's unveiling, he highlighted the new iPhones' processing prowess, saying the A8's graphics core chews through operations 50 percent faster than its A7 predecessor. Also improved is CPU performance, which shows a 25 percent boost over last year's chip.

Apple initiated iPhone 6 and 6 Plus preorders earlier today, though servers were quickly overwhelmed by record-breaking demand for the larger-screened iOS handsets. The new hardware will hit store shelves on Sept. 19 in nine launch countries, while a wider international rollout is expected a week following.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 78
    Hey [@]Tallest Skil[/@], didn't you call this days ago?
  • Reply 2 of 78
    He was the first to spot it? It was published on Apple's website the day of the announcement. Yes, it's sort of something you'd miss, but I imagine most people who scanned the page saw it. H.265 compatibility is not a huge surprise...the Samsung S4 has had an early version for months now, but the iPhone 6 having it means that Apple will likely start encoding content to it for that device's consumption. I imagine that future iPads and Apple TVs will get this feature soon enough...maybe even the Apple Watch.
  • Reply 3 of 78
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    I wonder if the new iTunes 12 beta has HEVC?
  • Reply 4 of 78
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Sevenfeet View Post



    He was the first to spot it? It was published on Apple's website the day of the announcement. Yes, it's sort of something you'd miss, but I imagine most people who scanned the page saw it. H.265 compatibility is not a huge surprise...the Samsung S4 has had an early version for months now, but the iPhone 6 having it means that Apple will likely start encoding content to it for that device's consumption. I imagine that future iPads and Apple TVs will get this feature soon enough...maybe even the Apple Watch.

    Given that the S4 (and S5) only have H.265 decoders, but no encoder, and Qualcomm's first chip with an H.265 encoder won't be out until next year (Snapdragon 810) it is quite the achievement that the A8 has both decoder and encoder. The only other mobile chip sporting an H.265 encoder that I am aware of is from Mediatek (MT6595), but I don't know if there is a phone with it out yet, so potentially another first from Apple.

     

    Good job, APple-Semi!   ;)

  • Reply 5 of 78
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,085member

    With the reduction in data, that means that facetime calls between A8 devices should look awesome and be smooth as hell. 

  • Reply 6 of 78
    heinzel wrote: »
    ...Given that the S4 (and S5) only have H.265 decoders, but no encoder...

    Oh, that's cute! Is this a new genre of Samsung spec-whoring that we can expect more of in the future?
  • Reply 7 of 78
    I thought the cpu was 50% faster and the GPU was 83% faster...
  • Reply 8 of 78
    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

    Hey @Tallest Skil, didn't you call this days ago?

     

    I hoped for it months ago but yeah, I noticed it a few days ago.

     

    Notice also that the phone DOES NOT PLAY BACK H.265. It simply uses it for FaceTime between iPhone 6 models (reverting to H.264 for older ones and Macs).

     

    But since it CAN do H.265, that tells me that playback is simply waiting for

     

    1. an update to iTunes to support it on the phone

    2. an update to iTunes to support it on Macs

    3. corresponding H.265 files from Apple in the iTunes Store

     

    ?So be on the lookout for those in the very near future.

  • Reply 9 of 78
    ascii wrote: »
    I wonder if the new iTunes 12 beta has HEVC?

    iTunes 12 could support it because without a HW decoder it's pointless to offer it. I don't think we'd not know it existed so Apple is probably just setting this up now.

    I hoped for it months ago but yeah, I noticed it a few days ago.

    Notice also that the phone DOES NOT PLAY BACK H.265. It simply uses it for FaceTime between iPhone 6 models (reverting to H.264 for older ones and Macs).

    But since it CAN do H.265, that tells me that playback is simply waiting for

    1. an update to iTunes to support it on the phone
    2. an update to iTunes to support it on Macs
    3. corresponding H.265 files from Apple in the iTunes Store

    ?So be on the lookout for those in the very near future.

    1) I've been expecting this, too. I think I even stated I expected it last year as the Galaxy S4(?) had an H.265 decoder in mid-2013.

    2) It might not say it plays back H.265 video — when it clearly does through FaceTime — because there is no H.265 on the iTunes Store or any appreciable content on the internet. I would discount the possibility that at next month's iTunes-focused event they will announce it and say the iPhone 6 now supports it. Let me take that back, I don't think that will happen until there are Macs, especially a Mac Pro with apps that can encode before they unleash it, but they are definitely getting it ready. Perhaps next year.
  • Reply 10 of 78
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

     

    With the reduction in data, that means that facetime calls between A8 devices should look awesome and be smooth as hell. 


    No, not really.

     

    It means that FaceTime calls use less cellular data. If the two callers are both on WiFi, it would be unlikely that they would notice much quality difference.

  • Reply 11 of 78
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    iTunes 12 could support it because without a HW decoder it's pointless to offer it.

     

    Why? Software decoder. Don’t try to tell me we’ll all have to buy new Macs to get this; they’ll never roll it out…

     

    2) It might not say it plays back H.265 video — when it clearly does through FaceTime — because there is no H.265 on the iTunes Store or any appreciable content on the internet.




    Yes, that’s what I mean. Sorry if it was unclear.

     

    I don't think that will happen until there are Macs, especially a Mac Pro with apps that can encode before they unleash it, but they are definitely getting it ready. Perhaps next year. 


     

    What I believe is that all Macs from here on out will have… H.265 support. I mean, don’t some now? How is this supposed to work, anyway? I don’t remember* having to buy a new computer to get H.264…

    *obligatory justified self-deprecation involving an inability to remember anything at all, thereby highlighting the normally throwaway phrase ‘I don’t remember’ as having true weight

  • Reply 12 of 78
    Why? Software decoder. Don’t try to tell me we’ll all have to buy new Macs to get this; they’ll never roll it out…

    Maybe but that would be a huge load on the Intel processors. My guess is that they are setting it up now so they can list their devices with H.265 for getting smaller files (at a faster rate) for current content encoded with H.265 and then offer 4K content in a couple years. Frankly, I'm surprised the iPhone 6 doesn't have [email protected] video which is more data than the per second data needed for [email protected] video*, everything else being equal. Of course there are many other considerations but I thought it would happen this year because we got [email protected] last year.


    * • 1920 × 1080 = 2,073,600 pixels × 30fps = 62,208,000 pixels per second • 1920 × 1080 = 2,073,600 pixels × 240fps = 497,664,000 pixels per second • 3840 × 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels × 30 fps = 248,832,000 pixels per second
  • Reply 13 of 78
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    I'm surprised the iPhone 6 doesn't have [email protected] video which is more than the per frame data needed for [email protected] video, everything else being equal.

     

    6S will, then. :p

     

    Honestly, probably the 7 or 7S before that happens. Apple will wait for 4K TVs to be more widely sold. If they’re not more widely sold (and unless 1080 panels fall off the market entirely, John Q. Moron won’t buy one), they likely won’t bother. Additionally, they’ll wait for more widespread H.265 support in their computers and products and more retina Macs.

  • Reply 14 of 78
    6S will, then. :p

    Honestly, probably the 7 or 7S before that happens. Apple will wait for 4K TVs to be more widely sold. If they’re not more widely sold (and unless 1080 panels fall off the market entirely, John Q. Moron won’t buy one), they likely won’t bother. Additionally, they’ll wait for more widespread H.265 support in their computers and products and more retina Macs.

    If the iPhone 6 can en/decode H.265 next week then I would expect hope everything to start getting that capability going forward.
  • Reply 15 of 78
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    Frankly, I'm surprised the iPhone 6 doesn't have [email protected] video which is more data than the per second data needed for [email protected] video*

     

    Ah, but the iPhone does 240fps at 720p.

  • Reply 16 of 78
    Ah, but the iPhone does 240fps at 720p.

    [image]

    Nice catch.

    • 1280 × 720 = 921,600 pixels × 240fps = 221,184,000 pixels per second
    • 3840 × 2160 = 8,294,400 pixels × 30 fps = 248,832,000 pixels per second

    Close. Very close.
  • Reply 17 of 78
    Now it's becoming clear why the A8 has twice the transistors. First they announce improved image signal processing for the camera. Now we see it has H.265 encoding/decoding.

    I'm betting these two features sucked up a good chunk of those extra transistors. Add in an extra GPU core and storage for the secure enclave and that's probably where that extra billion transistors went.


    BTW, when is iOS going to support the royalty free and vastly superior VP9¡
  • Reply 18 of 78
    I am drooling over the possibility of HEVC in streaming and video recording. I am stunned that Apple has buried this, instead of trumpeting it as a competitive advantage. ITunes movies (lower bandwidth, higher quality for 1080) is a prime use for it.

    I do expect it to be used for more than FaceTime. I can only hope this will come in an OS update next month.

    I can dream that this already supports HEVC V2, but that probably wasn't ready in time to put it into the A8. Is it close enough to cover that in software?
  • Reply 19 of 78
    I am stunned that Apple has buried this, instead of trumpeting it as a competitive advantage. ITunes movies (lower bandwidth, higher quality for 1080) is a prime use for it.

    When iTunes Store content is finally updated I am sure they will not keep quiet.
  • Reply 20 of 78
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

    When iTunes Store content is finally updated I am sure they will not keep quiet.

     

    So… $1.99 to update to H.265 copies of movies, do you bet?

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