YouTube Demos HTML5

Though the eagerly-anticipated HTML5 specification still has a ways to go before officially becoming a W3C standard, it has already seen adoption in a number of modern browsers, particularly its revised multimedia handling. Adoption by content producers, however, hasn't moved as quickly, as those running platforms light on proprietary options are well aware.

Changes are coming, albeit slowly, as evidenced by a posting made yesterday to the Official YouTube Blog. The post, by engineers Kevin Carle and Chris Zacharias, unveiled the latest feature for the site's TestTube incubator: a video player with HTML5 support.

The player is available to users of Google's Chrome browser, as well as Apple's Safari and in Internet Explorer via the Chrome Frame plugin. No other browsers are mentioned as compatible with the player, though observers have noted that HTML5 video is supported in the latest releases of both Firefox and Opera. Only h.264-encoded video is currently supported — unsurprising, given that h.264 is the codec of choice for YouTube.

Carle and Zacharias described the players as "experimental" — TestTube is the YouTube equivalent of Google Labs — and acknowledged that "there are some limitations." In addition to the limited number of browsers, videos with annotations, advertisements, or captions are a no-go, and fullscreen playback is unavailable. The pair promised "new and improved versions in the months to come," though specifics went unmentioned.

YouTube users can visit the TestTube site or a special HTML5 Beta opt-in page to enable the feature. The post does note that certain other TestTube features may prevent the player from working properly, though it does not specify which are responsible.

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