There was an announcement by Adobe today and its one that I feel is rather important for web focused devices. The Flash 9 player will support H.264 encoding (MPEG-4 Part 10). Those words may not mean much to some people but what is happening could have a big impact on the way we view online video on our mobile devices. Basically, the most common browser plugin in use today, Flash, is going to support an new video format and there’s a chance that this embeded video player could be made a lot more CPU efficient. Ryan Stewart, an Abode employee and blogger says:
Flash Player will also support MPEG-4 standard container files that contain video and audio data encoded using H.264/HE-AAC, including MP4, M4V, M4A, MOV, Mp4v, 3gp, 3g2. So basically you can play full, hardware accelerated 1080p Quicktime videos inside of the updated Flash Player. Welcome to the next generation of web video. [my emphasis]
UMPC-owners should ignore the ‘HD’ part of that statement because H.264 requires a lot of CPU for HD content but this new support could mean a more efficient low-bandwidth solution. Currently the Flash plugin uses the FLV container format with H.263 or VC6 encoded content but the efficiency of the plugin leaves a lot to be desired. You can see this easily in devices like the Q1b, Kohjinsha SA1 and Everun where YouTube playback, although low-bandwidth, is very choppy. If Adobe has taken the opportunity to implemented H.264 decoding efficiently in the embedded player then things are looking up for embedded and streamed video on UMPCs. The press release does mention ‘hardware accelerated’ playback too but we’ll have to see exactly what that means when Moviestar is made available in public beta format later today on the Adobe Labs website I’ll be testing it out as soon as I can to see what sort of CPU-load it requires and how it performs on the Q1B/P and Everun. I’m hoping we can say goodbye to choppy, low quality YouTube videos in the very near future.