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YouTube leaves Flash behind, adopts HTML5 instead

Benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers.

By Raif Karerat

WASHINGTON, DC: Flash’s slow and ongoing fall from grace as one of the foundational pillars of the world wide web is gathering additional momentum — YouTube has officially unmarried itself from Adobe’s offering and will instead be utilizing HTML5 for its default video player.

The website will now use HTML5 to stream video in Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari 8, and beta versions of Firefox. On the YouTube Engineering and Developers Blog, engineer Richard Leider expressed the time had come to leave Flash behind and adopt the new standard.

“The benefits of HTML5 extend beyond web browsers, and it’s now also used in smart TVs and other streaming devices,” he attested.

YouTube has been experimenting with HTML5 for over half-a-decade. Back in 2010, another YouTube engineer named John Harding wrote that although HTML5 lets YouTube stream to devices that don’t support Flash Player, such as the iPhone, the technology did not meet the website’s needs at the time. Five years later, HTML5 has advanced and proliferated to the point that YouTube can now use it as the default player in most modern internet browsers.

In his statement, Leider underscored HTML5’s appropriation of Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) as a key factor that led to making the switch.

“ABR has reduced buffering by more than 50 percent globally and as much as 80 percent on heavily-congested networks,” he said. ABR also enables live streaming on video game consoles such as the Xbox and Playstation 4.

YouTube’s decision to relinquish Flash may symbolize one of the final nails in the aging platform’s digital coffin. Even Adobe has been preparing for life after Flash — in 2011 the company killed Flash Player for mobile, citing at the time that HTML5 was the best solution for creating and deploying content across multiple mobile platforms.