New Flash Player plays MP4s, Quicktime video, even music from your iPod!
Update: You can now download the new (Beta 2) version of Flash Player 9 Update 3 from Adobe Labs.
OK, this one's big, so listen up! There's going to be a Flash Player update today on Adobe labs that changes the game when it comes to web video and audio: Flash Player 9 Update 3 (Beta 2) will be supporting hardware accelerated, multi-core enhanced fullscreen video playback of H.264 video and HE-AAC audio (the compression standards in MPEG-4 and the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray® and HD-DVD® high definition video players).
Why is this exciting?
In a nutshell, H.264 is the same standard being used to broadcast high-definition television by the likes of BBC HD, DirecTV, and Sky HD. H.264 provides great video quality and does so across the bandwidth spectrum from 3G (mobile phones) to HD while using up about half the bandwidth of MPEG-2. And there's already a wealth of H.264 content out there that Flash can now play. Specifically, this includes MP4, M4V, M4A, MOV, Mp4v, 3gp, and 3g2 files. (And even songs from your iPod that are not protected by FairPlay DRM as they're in H.264/AAC format too!)
Here's a quick FAQ about H.264 video support in Flash Player 9 Update 3 that should answer most of the important questions. For an in-depth technical analysis, read Tinic Uro's blog post titled What just happened to video on the web? and for more commentary, read Ryan Stewart's post, Flash Player supports H.264 video, on ZDNet.com.
Does H.264 in Flash Player support alpha channel?
No. Our first implementation does not support alpha channels using H.264, but we plan to implement this feature in the next major release.
Will I be able to put On2 VP6 streams into the new MPEG-4-based file format?
The Flash Player 9 beta will not playback On2 VP6 encoded video in the new file format.
Will Flash Player 9 Update 3 support non-FLV files/extensions?
Yes, with this update, Flash Player will also support MPEG-4 standard container files that contain video and audio data encoded using H.264/AAC, including MP4, M4V, M4A, MOV, Mp4v, 3gp, 3g2.
What are the minimum system requirements for viewing H.264-based content in Flash Player?
The minimum system requirements for viewing H264-based content will be similar to other media players supporting H264 in the market today. There will be a full list of system requirements and their associated playback capabilities posted on adobe.com when Flash player 9 is released.
Will H.264 be included in AIR? When will it appear in the AIR Labs releases?
Yes, H.264 will be included in AIR 1.0. It is expected to be available to AIR developers in a public beta on Adobe Labs later this year.
Will the Adobe Flash Media Server support H.264 content?
Yes, the next version of Flash Media Server will support streaming of H.264 content and AAC content - both live and on demand. More details on this will be released later in the year.
Will there be an updated FLV File Format Specification? When will it be available?
Yes, Adobe plans to make the updated specification available after the final release. The specification will describe the new MPEG-4-based file format container supported by Adobe Flash Player.
When will Flash Player 9 Update 3 ship?
Flash player 9 Update 3 is expected to be available from the Adobe Flash Player Download Center later this Fall.
What parts of the H.264 license are included when I buy Adobe Products?
The end user license to the Adobe Flash Player allows users to playback H.264 content for your own non-commercial use. Commercial use of the Flash Player to decode H.264 video may require a separate license.
What are H.264’s licensing terms?
What is MPEG LA?
MPEG LA is in the business of offering users access under one license to essential patents for standards-based technologies owned by many patent holders. MPEG LA provides these licenses as a convenience to the market in order to save users the time and expense of negotiating individual licenses with multiple patent owners and the resulting payment of many separate royalties. The licenses offered by MPEG LA include patents that are essential to implementation of H.264.
When does MPEG LA require payment of a use fee or royalty, and do I need my own license for H.264?
MPEG-LA has a number of categories where parties may be required to obtain a license and pay a royalty. Categories include: AVC Products, Title-By-Title Video, Subscription AVC Video, and Internet Broadcast AVC video, among others. Most categories apply to commercial uses and implementations, but some apply more broadly. Whether the license applies to your use; the applicable royalty; and the threshold for application of the royalty varies for each category. You will need to contact MPEG LA or review the license terms to determine if your use falls within a particular category. MPEG LA has posted a FAQ and has a Q&A Department (email firstname.lastname@example.org) for those questions not answered by the FAQ.