The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has approved H.265, the successor to the currently dominant video codec H.264 used in a number of devices like the iPhone and the iPad. The newly approved compression standard brings in several improvements over H.264, the most important of which is low bandwidth requirements without compromising on video quality.
Informally known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), H.265 will also play a crucial role once 4K videos become mainstream. Videos encoded using H.265 would benefit from the aggressive compression techniques used while encoding, which double the compression ratio as compared to H.264. Resolutions supported by HEVC in fact go all the way upto 8192×4320, that is 8K content, which will ensure that this standard remains future proof.
Apple has been a huge proponent of the H.264 standard, and includes hardware accelerated support for playing videos encoded using this standard in iOS devices. It seems crazy now, but once upon a time, Apple’s adoption of H.264 and insistence on HTML5-based video players was controversial — especially since most video before the iPad was encoded in VP6 to play through Adobe’s proprietary Flash player.
Don’t count on support for H.265 videos to be included in iOS devices in the near future, though. Chip makers would first have to add H.265 decoding and encoding support into their hardware. While software decoders would be released very soon, the performance won’t be hardware accelerated, which would not only make decoding slow but also impact battery life.
What would this mean for you, the end user?
- Lesser file size for videos.
- Apple could in the future add capabilities to shoot even higher resolution videos from the camera without a lot of concerns about storage.
- iTunes could stream existing videos without consuming a lot of data, crucial for mobile data connections.
- And of course, 4K content support both on devices as well as iTunes a few years down the line.