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Google Moves to Replace Flash with HTML5

Written by:
May 20th, 2016

By the end of this year Chrome will begin ignoring Flash as Google takes another step towards removing the “final Plugin” by replacing Flash with HTML5.

It is well known that any modern Web based media streaming technology should default to using HTML5 over Flash Players. Google’s move to stop reporting the presence of Flash Player in it’s Chrome browser further reinforces this position and takes the internet one step closer to a standardized approach to video.

Google’s HTML5 by Default Approach

Google recently announced, that Navigator.Plugins() and Navigator.MimeTypes() will only report the presence of Flash Player if the user has indicated that the domain should execute Flash, or if the site is in one of the Top 10 domains using Flash. They justify this step with faster load times, lower power consumption and a “more integrated media experience” – and we at Bitmovin truly agree!

This means that although Flash Player will be shipped within Google’s Chrome browser, the presence will not be indicated by default. On websites which truly require Flash, a prompt will appear – the user can then decide about the usage of Flash Player. Redirects to Adobe’s download page will be intercepted and also lead to the aforementioned prompt. However, to avoid “over-prompting” of users, the top 10 domains using Flash will be whitelisted by default. More information about Google’s HTML5 by Default initiative, can be found at a recent post in the Chromium-dev group.

Using HTML5 based Streaming in Web Applications

HTML5[1]
Global players, such as YouTube and Netflix have already switched to a HTML5 first approach for their video streaming platforms due to the benefits of HTML5 based streaming. This trend seems to continue, as support for proprietary plugins like Flash or Silverlight are continuously limited by browser vendors.

HTML5 based streaming has a multitude of advantages over proprietary plugins, including a company independent standard, simplified DRM workflow, superior performance without the security issues raised by plugins and more. You  can be read more about this in our recent article; Why YouTube & Netflix use MPEG-DASH in HTML5.

Obviously, one of the major driving factors behind every development in the realm of online video at the moment is adaptive bitrate streaming, which is the technology that allows a video to adjust it’s resolution to fit the device it is playing on and the bandwidth environment that it is being delivered through. The use of HTML5 based streaming has also simplified and standardized many of the solutions available here. This article gives a good insight into the various adaptive streaming formats and how they work.  MPEG-DASH vs. Apple HLS vs. Microsoft Smooth Streaming vs. Adobe HDS.

A switch from Flash based players towards HTML5 will not be good news for everyone. There are some formats that are not supported by HTML, such as  RTMP streaming, which is still quite popular for low delay live streaming services even today. These sites will need to switch to HTML5 using DASH or HLS. Advertising is another area where many companies have invested in the Flash (.flv) format and will need to move on to other formats.

So what are the advantages and opportunities created by using HTML5 instead of Flash?

Open standards with the HTML5 MSE

Media source extensions allow video to be played using the very latest in adaptive streaming technologies, directly through an HTML5/Javascript webpage. This gives developers the ability to use Javascript to control almost every aspect of the video, from skinning the player right through to firing actions based on ID3 tags.

DRM support with Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)

DRM is a hugely important part of the online video workflow and HTML5 offers a very useful tool with Encrypted Media Extensions. The functionality offered by EME can be deployed to Desktop, Mobile and VR headsets making DRM simpler and easier across all devices.

HTML5 performance

As well as making development easier, HTML5 outperforms plugin based playback in almost every department, giving you a superior end product, and providing the user with a higher quality of experience (QoE). This improvement in performance in combination with advances in adaptive streaming makes the use of higher quality formats such as UHD and 4k more accessible as well as delivering high bandwidth products such as 360° video and Virtual Reality in a more efficient manor.

Read more about some of the advantages of HTML5 video in this article.

Conclusion

Although Flash has historically been critical for rich media on the web, these days, an HTML5 based approach provides higher flexibility by increasing user experience. By moving away from Flash (or as they call it – their final plugin) Google is making the next step towards a more efficient and user-friendly internet.

With Bitmovin’s HTML5 Adapative Streaming Player, as the name suggests, already uses the power of HTML5 to deliver the best possible video experience on the internet. It is already being used behind the scenes by many of the major video sites on the web, and has the fastest growing user base in the industry.

Sign up for a free account and try it today!

Browser Support using Bitmovin’s HTML5 Adapative Streaming Player

Browser DASH HTML5 HLS HTML5
Chrome v30+ tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2
Firefox v42+ tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2
Internet Explorer 11+[1] tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2
Microsoft Edge tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2
Safari v8+ tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2
Opera v15+ tick_green_sm2 tick_green_sm2

1 Only supported on Windows 8+

A more detailed overview, as well as information about mobile and other streaming devices can also be found in our Device & Browser Support page.

All the best,
Reinhard & the Bitmovin Team!

 

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