New HTML5 Standards for YouTube: Is Google Being Evil

If you watch HD videos on YouTube videos you may have noticed lately that there is a difference depending on what browser you are watching them on. The difference is not your imagination. Google who owns YouTube is now using HTML5 with MPEG-Dash which uses the Media Source Extension API.  This allows an adaptive stream meaning that videos can be automatically switch to lower or higher bit rate depending on bandwidth. This should help to prevent buffering especially during live videos. At first glance this appears to be good news and in the long run it maybe, but at the present time it there is a problem.

Currently only a few browsers support HTML5 with MPEG-Dash they are Chrome, IE–11 for Windows 8 and Opera. If you prefer to use Safari or Firefox than the highest bit rate you can watch a HTML5 video on YouTube is  720p. This is also true for the YouTube App on iOS and other third-party apps that play YouTube videos. It also blocks third-party apps and extensions that download YouTube videos and break the YouTube terms of use.


Some people especially on Google Plus are wondering if this is Google being evil, because it forces both Safari and Firefox users to choose between their favorite browsers and watching YouTube videos full HD when available. I believe that what Google is trying to do is to move everyone to the same standard which is set by the World Wide Web Consortium(W3C). If they continue to support the older version of HTML5 than there is no incentive to move forward. Whether that is being evil or not may depend on your point of view. One of the main objections to the way the HTML5 has been drafted is the inclusion of DRM and Encrypted Media Extension. The Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a formal written objection back in May 2013. This issue does not affect Flash videos.  Have you run into this issue and how have you solved it.

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