YouTube 2015-01-27 15-00-53

Google has announced today, five years after introducing a test version of the feature, that HTML5 video on YouTube is now the default setting for video playback. Before today, Adobe Flash was used for playing YouTube videos, and users needed to go to (pictured above) to toggle the HTML5 player (if your browser supported it).

The announcement comes via the YouTube Engineering and Developers blog, where the post outlines things that have kept the HTML5 <video> tag from becoming the default playback method in the past, technologies that have helped make this move happen today, and various benefits that are arriving now that this change has finally gone through.

It was once uncertain whether or not HTML5 would become the standard, but it looks like we now have our answer. The web’s largest video sharing site now supports the <video> tag by default.

Four years ago, we wrote about YouTube’s early support for the HTML5 <video> tag and how it performed compared to Flash. At the time, there were limitations that held it back from becoming our preferred platform for video delivery. Most critically, HTML5 lacked support for Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) that lets us show you more videos with less buffering.

Google has been working hard over the last few years to bring HTML5 playback up to par with technologies (such as Adaptive Bitrate) that Adobe Flash offered, and appears that the video sharing site is finally ready to adopt the new technology. As of today, HTML5 is now default in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari 8, and some of the more recent beta versions of Firefox.

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Stephen Hall

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