So long, Flash; YouTube now uses HTML5 by default

— 9:15 AM on January 28, 2015

Using a recent browser? Then chances are Adobe's Flash plug-in will remain dormant the next time you fire up a YouTube video. That's because, according to Google, YouTube now defaults to HTML5 video on Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Safari, and "beta versions of Firefox."

YouTube has had an experimental HTML5 player for many years, but several key features were needed for that player could take over as the default. Among those: adaptive bit-rate streaming, content encryption, full-screen support, and WebRTC for live feeds. Google's own VP9 video codec, which "gives you higher quality video resolution with an average bandwidth reduction of 35 percent," is also on the list.

Google says work on those features has benefited not just YouTube, but also rival services. Sure enough, Netflix already supports HTML5 playback on some browsers, as does Vimeo.

This switchover should also please the folks at Apple. Five years ago, Steve Jobs publicly bet on HTML5 video as an alternative to Flash. Jobs also made headlines with a long rant about the Adobe plug-in, outlining Flash's downsides and explaining why it would never be supported on the iPhone and iPad.

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