YouTube for iOS gains HDR support for iPhone XS and XS Max, still lacks 4K

Posted:
in iOS edited September 2018
The YouTube app for iOS has received an update that adds support for high dynamic range video on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, but at the same time continues lack an option to view 4K-resolution video.




The update to version 13.37 of the iOS YouTube app adds new options to the video quality settings, with compatible clips now showing the letters "HDR" next to the resolution to denote the high dynamic range content. HDR options can be selected manually, but the Auto quality option will also enable HDR if it is available for the currently-viewed video.

HDR enables for a wider range of colors in a video to be displayed on a compatible screen, such as is the case for the Apple TV 4K and a supported HDR-enabled 4K TV. The effect can allow for a brighter, detailed, and more vivid picture, with less color banding and other digital approximation artifacts.

The OLED displays used in the iPhone XS and XR offer high contrast ratios, enabling it to be suitable to view HDR content, both created by the onboard cameras and those downloaded or streamed to the device through online services.




The addition of HDR to the app for the XS range was not announced by YouTube. The release notes for the app version simply state it includes bug fixes and improved its performance, with no mention of additional device support for HDR.

The YouTube app has had HDR support since May, specifically for the iPhone X, with the latest update extending that same support to the newer models.

While HDR support is likely to be welcomed by users of those devices, the app continues to avoid providing any higher resolution options than 1080p, with 4K content displayed on the iPhones at a downsampled resolution. The problem is not only restricted to iPhones, as iPads with higher-resolution displays and the Apple TV 4K are unable to play 4K or higher-than-1080p content.

The issue is also evident on macOS, as while Chrome can offer YouTube videos at up to 4K resolution, Safari is limited to only 1080p at most.

The problem is likely to be down to Apple's lack of OS-level support for Google's VP9 codec, used by YouTube. While it remains unclear when or even if Apple will include VP9 support in its software and devices, it is also unknown if Google will work around Apple's decision not to use the codec in software as it has done on the Xbox One, if only to enable 4K or 1440p video streams on hardware that could play it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    It works on the iPhone X as well, not just the XS and XS Max. 
    yankeesr23caladanianclaire1LukeCage
  • Reply 2 of 20
    These conflicts between companies really hurts consumers
  • Reply 3 of 20
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    HDR is a far more important feature than 4K. It used to be that 4K was the only way to get HDR, but now that streaming services have added it to 1080p streams, 4K is no longer necessary. I actually prefer 1080p on my Apple TV 4K for daily viewing since the buffering takes less time, especially when channel flipping through Netflix -- yet I still get HDR where available. I only go into 4K when it's a big "event" film. Wish the ATV 4K had auto resolution matching, but that may never come.

    As for mobile devices, this is especially true. No real need for 4K on a display that small. Where I notice the difference with 4K is on TVs that are 65" and larger where the seating distance is less than 8 feet.
    tmayjbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 20
    mac_128 said:
    HDR is a far more important feature than 4K. It used to be that 4K was the only way to get HDR, but now that streaming services have added it to 1080p streams, 4K is no longer necessary. I actually prefer 1080p on my Apple TV 4K for daily viewing since the buffering takes less time, especially when channel flipping through Netflix -- yet I still get HDR where available. I only go into 4K when it's a big "event" film. Wish the ATV 4K had auto resolution matching, but that may never come.

    As for mobile devices, this is especially true. No real need for 4K on a display that small. Where I notice the difference with 4K is on TVs that are 65" and larger where the seating distance is less than 8 feet.
    You can always argue that the previous format is 'good enough' and I agree with you that 1080p + HDR is exceptional, especially on a phone. Its amazing how good online video is now as apposed to just 10 years ago. But it's always frustrating when the 'best' available option isn't offered, especially when it's just due to propitiatory formats or some competitive dispute. 
  • Reply 5 of 20
    claire1claire1 Posts: 494unconfirmed, member
    Apple should release a social video platform. I don't care if it has 2% marketshare. I've absolutely had it with youtube. 
  • Reply 6 of 20
    claire1claire1 Posts: 494unconfirmed, member
    mac_128 said:
    HDR is a far more important feature than 4K. It used to be that 4K was the only way to get HDR, but now that streaming services have added it to 1080p streams, 4K is no longer necessary. I actually prefer 1080p on my Apple TV 4K for daily viewing since the buffering takes less time, especially when channel flipping through Netflix -- yet I still get HDR where available. I only go into 4K when it's a big "event" film. Wish the ATV 4K had auto resolution matching, but that may never come.

    As for mobile devices, this is especially true. No real need for 4K on a display that small. Where I notice the difference with 4K is on TVs that are 65" and larger where the seating distance is less than 8 feet.
    Yeah explain that to the android slaves who claim 720p is "low resolution" on the tiny XR Retina display. 
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,201administrator
    It works on the iPhone X as well, not just the XS and XS Max. 
    It worked on the iPhone X in April or May, I forget specifically when. This update whitelists the XS and XS Max.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    The ATV app is still so, so horrid. It doesn’t register the Play button while focused on a video thumbnail, scrubbing is still ghetto, and the home view is cluttered. 

    Google just doesnt get UI. 
  • Reply 9 of 20
    claire1 said:
    Apple should release a social video platform. I don't care if it has 2% marketshare. I've absolutely had it with youtube. 
    Not me!!! It would be locked down worse then every other platform.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Why would you want to watch 4K video on a device that doesn’t have a 4K screen? That’s just a waste of time and bandwidth.
    mac_128
  • Reply 11 of 20
    claire1claire1 Posts: 494unconfirmed, member
    jbdragon said:
    claire1 said:
    Apple should release a social video platform. I don't care if it has 2% marketshare. I've absolutely had it with youtube. 
    Not me!!! It would be locked down worse then every other platform.
    So u enjoy the ads, the nagging video recommendations, their data-mining, their political bias and censoring and their lack of pay to creators due to politics?

    Not me. 
  • Reply 12 of 20
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    kkqd1337 said:
    mac_128 said:
    HDR is a far more important feature than 4K. It used to be that 4K was the only way to get HDR, but now that streaming services have added it to 1080p streams, 4K is no longer necessary. I actually prefer 1080p on my Apple TV 4K for daily viewing since the buffering takes less time, especially when channel flipping through Netflix -- yet I still get HDR where available. I only go into 4K when it's a big "event" film. Wish the ATV 4K had auto resolution matching, but that may never come.

    As for mobile devices, this is especially true. No real need for 4K on a display that small. Where I notice the difference with 4K is on TVs that are 65" and larger where the seating distance is less than 8 feet.
    You can always argue that the previous format is 'good enough' and I agree with you that 1080p + HDR is exceptional, especially on a phone. Its amazing how good online video is now as apposed to just 10 years ago. But it's always frustrating when the 'best' available option isn't offered, especially when it's just due to propitiatory formats or some competitive dispute. 
    I'm not even arguing it's good enough -- I'm arguing that it's unnecessary to expend bandwidth and effort for something that literally doesn't matter over a certain distance. It's the same issue with "Retina" displays. That said, I also agree about an app delivering the latest technology. But if the device it's intended to work on doesn't support it then it's kind of moot.

    Does the iPhone now support 4K HDR streaming via AirPlay? I know the YouTube App supports HDR via ChromeCast from the iPhone, but I'm not sure whether that's 4K or 1080p.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    All this has to do with the fight over which organization wins over which video codec is the de facto industry standard.  In the DVD days, it was MPEG-2 and users paid license fees for it.  When Blu-Ray came out, two new standards emerged, the first was VC-1 promoted by Microsoft.  But it wasn't popular and isn't used at all today (although all players still support it).  But the industry solidly got behind H.264 which was a patent pool of many organizations and companies who contributed patented technology.  It's in everything now from computers, phones to production facilities, satellites, you name it.  Google then challenged this hegemony with VP8, a technology they acquired.  VP8 was good and Google tried to get everyone to use it since it was "patent free".  But trust is not something Google has with many of its partner/competitors and they saw no reason to change from H.264.

    Fast forward to 4K video and Google say a fresh opportunity to wrest control of the video compression technology market with VP9 while the industry consortium developed H.265 (HEVC).  With the increasing power of Youtube, Google made VP9 the default codec across all platforms.  But there was still the problem of H.265 and it's leader, Apple.  Apple wanted no part of supporting a Google developed standard and many of the industry partners wonder whether VP8/9's "lack of patent infringement" would ever stand up in court.  But going to court would be expensive, last years and in the end, probably not accomplish much of anything.  So Apple decided the best strategy was to ignore VP9.  They wouldn't implement in system level libraries and they certainly wouldn't put it in A-chip silicon.  If Google wanted to implement it in software, it was up to them for their own products.

    Google struck back and wouldn't support H.265 on Youtube for 4K video.  That leaves out iPhones, and Apple TV.  Google's own Chrome browser would do it on the Mac, but that's about it.  And the stalemate has been this way ever since.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 20
    The ATV app is still so, so horrid. It doesn’t register the Play button while focused on a video thumbnail, scrubbing is still ghetto, and the home view is cluttered. 

    Google just doesnt get UI. 


    Tell me about it. The moment you pause the video, half the screen is covered by icons for the other videos in the channel and the control buttons. They take a couple of seconds to clear off when you play, thereby making sure you miss a bit every time you pause and play.

    The "enhancements" in the last update were a massive step backwards in usability, IMO.

  • Reply 15 of 20
    bejito81bejito81 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    well if Apple refuse to integrate codec and also to create phones supporting high resolution (iPhone XS isn't even 1440p so why would google add these resolutions in YouTube anyway?)
  • Reply 16 of 20
    bejito81 said:
    well if Apple refuse to integrate codec and also to create phones supporting high resolution (iPhone XS isn't even 1440p so why would google add these resolutions in YouTube anyway?)
    Apple doesn't want to do anything to undermine the patent pool group which contains many companies and organizations, big and small who came together to create both H.264 and H.265.  They all considered it a triumph to get all of these interests to combine efforts to make a true industry standard.  Google is not interested in that.

    1440p resolution is greater than 1080p but less than 2160p (4K).  For the sake of detail with fewer artifacts, resolution scalers prefer dealing with more information and scaling down, not less information and scaling upward.  And the A11/A12 chips are more than capable of downscaling 2160p content.
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 17 of 20
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,059member
    sevenfeet said:
    bejito81 said:
    well if Apple refuse to integrate codec and also to create phones supporting high resolution (iPhone XS isn't even 1440p so why would google add these resolutions in YouTube anyway?)
    Apple doesn't want to do anything to undermine the patent pool group which contains many companies and organizations, big and small who came together to create both H.264 and H.265.  They all considered it a triumph to get all of these interests to combine efforts to make a true industry standard.
    Except that it's not a clear standard. You must be reading only HEVC talking points. There is no triumph.

    There are currently four different patent pools and several separate companies that claim to hold IP reading on H.265, and at least one of those "standards" is leaving open the possibility of end-users being dinged for royalties. It's certainly possible the whole HEVC effort will end up eventually abandoned. Dead. Buried. A victim of infighting among the players, and greed from the companies holding IP that reads on it. Some of them still today refuse to FRAND license to any of the H.265 groups in order to craft their own royalty claims, Nokia being one of the more prominent ones.
     
    That's why there's broad industry involvement in the Google-supported and royalty-free AV-1, built upon VP9 for the most part with additional code contributions from other industry titans. Even Apple has joined up with Google in the AV-1 group.
    Surprise. 
    https://bitmovin.com/apple-joins-av1-codec-consortium/

    EDIT: Here's what the head of MPEG itself, Leonardo Chiariglione had to say about it a few months back:
     “At long last everybody realizes that the old MPEG business model is now broke, all the investments (collectively hundreds of millions USD) made by the industry for the new (H.265) video codec will go up in smoke and AOM’s royalty free model (AV1) will spread to other business segments as well.”
    http://blog.chiariglione.org/a-crisis-the-causes-and-a-solution/

    edited September 2018
  • Reply 18 of 20
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,378member
    sevenfeet said:
    bejito81 said:
    well if Apple refuse to integrate codec and also to create phones supporting high resolution (iPhone XS isn't even 1440p so why would google add these resolutions in YouTube anyway?)
    Apple doesn't want to do anything to undermine the patent pool group which contains many companies and organizations, big and small who came together to create both H.264 and H.265.  They all considered it a triumph to get all of these interests to combine efforts to make a true industry standard.  Google is not interested in that.

    1440p resolution is greater than 1080p but less than 2160p (4K).  For the sake of detail with fewer artifacts, resolution scalers prefer dealing with more information and scaling down, not less information and scaling upward.  And the A11/A12 chips are more than capable of downscaling 2160p content.
    Regardless, why choke the phone with added bandwidth and processor power to subtract information for a screen size where it’s unlikely to make any difference, at least when it comes to compressed and streaming video from a mostly consumer contributed video platform of questionable quality anyway, the bulk of which isn’t even in 4K?
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Is this limited to the X series or does it work on the 8 and 8+ as well, I still don’t understand how those support HDR while being LCD panels.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    BenKBenK Posts: 1member
    4K support is so important across all devices, because if your upload can be streamed @ 4K that means Google is encoding your stream in VP9 in all resolutions. 1080P streams @VP9 look and sound vastly better than AVC/MP4

    This is evident in my ulpoads where there is lots of motion, or my music uploads when listening to side by side comparisons. Appple's decision not to allow VP9 on their browsers and phones is pure politics, but the sad part is it's degrading quality for millions of viewers who have part of their business on YouTube and I'm an OSX fan.

    Please remember it's not just about 4K, the VP9 codec effects all resolutions. I ulpload all videos to my channel in 1440P, and sadly not Apple compatible. It is compatible on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and all Android phones.
    edited January 1
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