HTML5 Will Take Webcasting into the Future
In July 2017, Adobe announced that it will stop updating and distributing its Flash Player at the end of 2020. For all intents and purposes, this announcement finally put the Flash-versus-HTML5 debate to rest, or at least quieted it down significantly until 2020.
We were one of the early adopters of HTML5 technology for webcasting. In 2016, we migrated Convey, our self-service webcasting platform, to an all-HTML5 solution, eliminating the need for users to download browser plug-ins such as Flash Player to view a webcast.
HTML5 works across all modern browsers and operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Apple OS, Apple iOS, and Google Android. Because HTML5 is an open source technology – meaning anyone can improve it by contributing – it has proven to be more secure than Flash, a proprietary solution controlled by Adobe. It’s not uncommon for proprietary technology to be plagued by security issues and slow development.
In addition to better security and open-source development, two of the biggest advantages HTML5 has over Flash for webcasting are its adaptive bitrate streaming capability and mobile device support.
Adaptive Bitrate Streaming
With adaptive bitrate streaming, video is delivered in the most efficient way and with the highest usable quality video stream based on the CPU capacity and bandwidth of each individual user. This automatic adjustment maximizes the viewing experience regardless of the user’s connection speed or the device being used to play the streaming content.
Without adaptive bitrate, you need to set a webcast’s streaming quality and speed to the lowest common denominator, which means everyone in the audience experiences low bitrate video quality. On the other hand, adaptive bitrate allows you to set the speed and quality to the highest possible output, because the connection of each user will adapt to the connection speed available for the best viewing experience.
Flash isn’t supported by most mobile devices. This creates a huge gap for mobile application developers who want to cater to the burgeoning growth of smartphone and other mobile device usage. Growth, by the way, that isn’t going to let up any time soon. Flash-based video applications miss out on a huge audience by not being able to run on mobile devices.
Additionally, HTML5 consumes far less power than Flash. Hence, HTML5 video content is far more efficient on battery life, greatly easing the battery burden on smartphones and other mobile devices.
All in all, Flash has had a long, great run. As Adobe dials back distribution of Flash and cuts it off altogether in 2020, HTML5 is set to be the video and webcasting technology of the future.