Adobe bringing HD video, high quality audio to Flash using H.264, AAC (iPhone Flash support?)

“Today Adobe, the San Jose software maker, will announce that it is integrating a standard format for high definition video into the newest version of its immensely popular Flash video player. Flash players currently sit on 98 percent of all desktop computers and hundreds of millions of portable and handheld devices. Sites like YouTube, and favor Flash over competing players like Apple’s QuickTime and Microsoft’s Windows Media, since Flash is relatively easy to develop for and videos play directly in the browser,” Brad Stone reports for The New York Times.

“Adobe will integrate support for H.264, and for the high-performance AAC audio standard, into the newest version of Flash, available for download today,” Stone reports.

“H.264 is an open standard and the result of an industry consortium. Apple added H.264 support to QuickTime two years ago and has been integrating it throughout its entire line of products this year. Microsoft has its own proprietary high-def standard, called Windows Media VC-9,” Stone reports.

Full article here.

Adobe’s press release here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “KenC” for the heads up.]

Paving the way for iPhone Flash support? Apple clearly wants widespread H.264 and AAC support. Now the Flash plug-in for iPhone makes sense. In fact, we’d venture to guess that there is a high probability that Apple told Adobe to support H.264 and AAC, if Adobe wanted to get Flash onto the iPhone.

In early July, The Wall Street Journal’s Walter S. Mossberg reported, “At launch, the iPhone version of the Safari browser is missing some plug-ins needed for playing common types of Web videos. The most important of these is the plug-in for Adobe’s Flash technology. Apple says it plans to add that plug-in through an early software update, which I am guessing will occur within the next couple of months.”

Note: The advanced H.264 codec makes it possible for Apple’s QuickTime 7 (released April 29, 2005) to play back high-definition video on a personal computer without additional hardware required. Apple’s HD QuickTime gallery is here.

Adobe is following Apple’s considerable lead here.


  1. “It’s about fricking time!

    Adobe could only go so far with it’s proprietary Flash video format.”

    I LOL’ed.
    That comment is hilarious.

    1) Windows Media and Quicktime are also proprietary
    2) Adobe hasn’t owned the Flash platform for very long, so why is it ‘about time’?

  2. The NYTs article didn’t seem to give Apple much credit for leading the charge to H.264 and AAC. If anything they seem to forget that Youtube is reencoding in H.264, and not mentioning the whole AAC naming confusion seems a deliberate oversight.

  3. I don’t think this means what MDN thinks it means. It simply means Flash PLAYER can now PLAY H.264 encoded video. It does not mean that Flash will be exporting H.264 video by default rather than a Flash format. This announcement has NO impact on the iPhone whatsoever. If anything it benefits Flash (and the consumer) but I doubt it benefits Apple in any substantial way.

  4. @InTheShelter,
    While the announcement is not definitive and “does not mean that Flash will be exporting H.264 video by default” for sure. I disagree with your conclusion. I suspect that Apple has known of these plans and probably worked with Adobe to make it happen. Chances are that iPhones will soon have access to embedded Flash that IS encoded with H.264 video and AAC audio, at which time you will see a shift of web developers utilizing these codecs. They will be both the best output AND will extend their web sites to iPhone compatibility. Hey, I don’t know any more than you do, but this is the way I see it playing out.

  5. @Macromancer

    #1 Windows Media and Quicktime are Container formats, they describe the internal layout of the video and audio files, and chapters (plus other things). H.264 and AAC are Formats for the video and audio, they have very little to do with the container format. You can have a windows media file encoded in h.264 with AAC audio, or a Quicktime encoded in DivX or MPEG2 or something else.

    #2 Being the leader their position of using a non-standard is a bigger annoyance… however I have little experience with creating flash video so I don’t know what their previous video/audio format was, most likely they will still be using the same flash container format, just with the additional support for video and audio formats.

  6. “Paving the way for iPhone Flash support?”

    No, the iPhone can already play H.264… why would there need to be a Flash plugin just to play H.264? Flash support is more about the interactive things and toons you find on the web. If anything, you’ll find sites posting just .mp4 video that will play in Flash for some and will play natively on the iPhone.

  7. “Chances are that iPhones will soon have access to embedded Flash that IS encoded with H.264 video and AAC audio”

    Chances are that iPhones ALREADY have access to embedded content encoded with H.264. What this MAINLY means that as these big companies encode using an industry standard instead of .flv, Adobe won’t be left behind as QuickTime adoption increases (as the only player that will handle the content).

  8. This means that many more web sites will be compatible with the iPhone, the Mac and Apple TV. Apple has been playing its hand well, in preventing its competitors from locking Apple out of full web access. And it is doing it with open non proprietary standards that will keep it far from anti-trust problems.

  9. @E of E,
    Quite right on that container format spiel. Also QT7 is the container format for MPEG4, and AAC and H.264 are integral codecs/ components of MPEG4.

    IOW, Apple wins! MSFT WMP support for AAC and H.264 means Apple wins.

    Actually, Apple already won. We’re just seeing the inevitable settling of dust.

  10. Wait a minute. Quicktime is proprietary, but it is cross-platform. Both Windows and Macs can play back Quicktime files, but only Windows can play the full gamut of WM files. I’m not even talking authoring here, which again is possible for Quicktime on both platforms, but not so for WM files. So to say that “Quicktime and WM are both proprietary” is like saying “all drivable cars have four wheels” — a true, but meaningless statement.

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