WebM video support has been added in macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta 2

Posted:
in macOS
After over a decade of availability, Apple has finally added support for Google's WebM video codec in Safari on macOS Big Sur 11.3.

WebM is a video format from Google that provides good video quality with a small file size
WebM is a video format from Google that provides good video quality with a small file size


Google's video format WebM has existed since 2010 but for reasons unknown, Apple is only just adding support to macOS Safari now. WebM files will only play on desktop Safari when running the macOS 11.3 beta 2, and does not work on mobile Safari as of yet.

The 8-Bit reports that WebM is a niche video codec that isn't widely used today. Most other browsers supported WebM already with Apple being among the last to add support.

All browsers on iOS do not support WebM since browsers like Chrome and Firefox must use Apple's Safari web engine. There is no current indication of Apple bringing support to iOS, in beta, or otherwise.

Steve Jobs originally dismissed the WebM format, calling it "a mess" that "wasn't ready for prime time." Over a decade later, Apple apparently believes it is.

Apple may be bringing WebM support as an alternative to Flash since it was officially deprecated in 2021. Apple has also been working with Google to bring support for 4K YouTube video playback which relies on VP9, and WebM support may be a side-effect of that.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 8,925member
    WebM is a video format from Google that provides good video quality with a small file size

    Bullshit
  • Reply 2 of 10
    The problems were:
    1. Untested IP, and boy of boy do people love to sue apple. 
    2. Limited hardware decoding options
    3. May have potentially given google another lever to further harm the free web
    entropysauxio
  • Reply 3 of 10
    rcfarcfa Posts: 944member
    Fine. I miss the old QuickTime where third parties could simply provide format plugins, allowing support for any media type in any app that was adhering to QT standards, provided anyone cared enough about a format to provide a plug-in for it.

    Apple e.g. doesn’t support .amr audio, and my mobile carrier sends me voice mail as e-mail with .amr (adaptive multi-rate audio format) attachments. So each time I first need to export the file to VLC just to listen to it.
    In the old days, someone could have written an .amr plug-in, and the problem would be solved. Now for years I hope that either Apple supports the format finally, or the carrier switches to .mp4 or something like it that Apple supports. No such luck.

    Apple certainly took a step backwards with QTX
    edited February 18 libertyforallelijahglordjohnwhorfin
  • Reply 4 of 10
    Seems like a poor move by Apple.

  • Reply 5 of 10
    The problems were:
    1. Untested IP, and boy of boy do people love to sue apple. 
    2. Limited hardware decoding options
    3. May have potentially given google another lever to further harm the free web
    Nah. While they have - due to necessity - been more willing to embrace open standards recently, Apple has historically preferred to use their own proprietary stuff and especially avoided formats used by their competitors. To repeat: they would be "meh" at absolute best at adopting industry standards and would outright avoid standards just because a competitor developed it.

    They're not like that anymore - much - because industry changes dictated it: with a billion iPhones multiplied by countless combinations of third party apps they are no longer limited to dealing with a few million Mac owners that only need a few applications (whose creators knew adopting Apple's standards was required). But back then "we aren't using it because Microsoft or Google created it" was sufficient in and of itself.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    rcfa said:
    Fine. I miss the old QuickTime where third parties could simply provide format plugins, allowing support for any media type in any app that was adhering to QT standards, provided anyone cared enough about a format to provide a plug-in for it.

    Apple e.g. doesn’t support .amr audio, and my mobile carrier sends me voice mail as e-mail with .amr (adaptive multi-rate audio format) attachments. So each time I first need to export the file to VLC just to listen to it.
    In the old days, someone could have written an .amr plug-in, and the problem would be solved. Now for years I hope that either Apple supports the format finally, or the carrier switches to .mp4 or something like it that Apple supports. No such luck.

    Apple certainly took a step backwards with QTX
    Same with Matroska and FLAC, which are hugely popular formats and are not really usable on the platform unless you convert them using a third party utility, when not so long ago you could just add plugins for them, and they would play in preview. I'm 100% with you there, it seems like such a step back to close up what used to be a very open and modular architecture. On the other hand maybe the openness made it too much of a target for malware?
  • Reply 7 of 10
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,237member
    cloudguy said:
    The problems were:
    1. Untested IP, and boy of boy do people love to sue apple. 
    2. Limited hardware decoding options
    3. May have potentially given google another lever to further harm the free web
    Nah. While they have - due to necessity - been more willing to embrace open standards recently, Apple has historically preferred to use their own proprietary stuff and especially avoided formats used by their competitors. To repeat: they would be "meh" at absolute best at adopting industry standards and would outright avoid standards just because a competitor developed it.
    Nah.  The went the legitimate route of licensing H.264 from the MPEG LA instead of cloning and owning technologies to avoid licensing fees as Google has done with everything from Java to fonts to video codecs.  Google finally did negotiate an agreement with the MPEG LA over the VP8 codec (the basis of WebM) in 2013, but since Apple already had H.264 (which has better hardware decoding support), they weren't in a rush to add support for it.

    As I continually maintain, I was all for having the open source community copy and create (i.e. clone and own) open versions of existing technologies back when Linux was mainly used in academia and small scale projects because those communities couldn't afford licensing fees.  However, once it became the foundation for large scale commercial projects (mass produced electronics), that's when I felt that the big companies profiting from it should pony up and pay for licensing in their products.
    edited February 19 jony0
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Same with Matroska and FLAC, which are hugely popular formats and are not really usable on the platform unless you convert them using a third party utility, when not so long ago you could just add plugins for them, and they would play in preview. I'm 100% with you there, it seems like such a step back to close up what used to be a very open and modular architecture. On the other hand maybe the openness made it too much of a target for malware?
    Which platform?
    I use VLC on my Macbook, and Nplayer on my IOS devices - although VLC is another free option for them too, and have always happily played any video format (mkv etc), or FLAC if needed in VLC.
    I've never used Quicktime in the past, in the same way I never used Windows Media Player back in my Windows XP days - just use VLC at least and stop worrying about format compatibility.
    edited February 19 michelb76jony0
  • Reply 9 of 10
    It seems as apple made some deal with Google as I see Apple TV+ support on Chromecast news as well ;)
    edited February 19
  • Reply 10 of 10
    cjcoops said:
    Same with Matroska and FLAC, which are hugely popular formats and are not really usable on the platform unless you convert them using a third party utility, when not so long ago you could just add plugins for them, and they would play in preview. I'm 100% with you there, it seems like such a step back to close up what used to be a very open and modular architecture. On the other hand maybe the openness made it too much of a target for malware?
    Which platform?
    I use VLC on my Macbook, and Nplayer on my IOS devices - although VLC is another free option for them too, and have always happily played any video format (mkv etc), or FLAC if needed in VLC.
    I've never used Quicktime in the past, in the same way I never used Windows Media Player back in my Windows XP days - just use VLC at least and stop worrying about format compatibility.
    For the Mac, you should move to open source IINA player:  https://iina.io .  It's a true/proper Mac app.  It's optimized for Mac playback.  Most of my 4K UHD disc backs simply can't be played by VLC - stuttering.  VLC doesn't map UHD colors correctly.  All of my 4K UHD disc backups play without stuttering on IINA, and IINA is macOS color mapping "aware".  UHD titles look beautiful. 

    VLC UI is just plain horrible.  VLC will play about any file format (so will IINA - uses some of the same open source libraries as VLC), but non-standard key shortcuts, doesn't support true full screen (it overlays the desktop it's on), "float on top" is broken in many ways on a Mac, etc.
    jony0
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