For streaming video service operators who have been searching for a more efficient video codec to deliver higher resolution and higher quality video, the announcement by Apple at the Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 (#WWDC2017) that they will be supporting HEVC across their Mac and iOS product families, is huge.
Driven by the breathtaking quality of the retina display that is now ubiquitous across Apple devices, and with more than 1 billion active iOS devices across the globe, consumer demand for quality has never been higher. Until today, video streaming service providers have been limited by the technology constraints of only having access to an H.264 codec across this massive device ecosystem.
Beamr identified the advantages of HEVC and made a strategic decision to invest heavily ahead of the market to develop Beamr 5. As the world’s best HEVC software encoder, Beamr 5 has been used since 2014 by the largest OTT streaming services, Hollywood studios, broadcasters, and MVPDs. Our HEVC software encoder SDK is two times faster than the nearest implementation and is up to 50% more efficient with a content-adaptive bitrate mode that extends the HEVC standard rate control options beyond CBR and VBR.
What does this announcement mean for the video industry?
#1. Higher quality at lower bitrates will become a basic requirement to compete successfully in the market.
Services that are competing for consumer attention or engagement, whether SVOD, TVOD, or AVOD, will be compared with competitors who are delivering content at up to 50% lower bitrates and with better video quality. Now, it is time to re-encode all HD libraries using HEVC. And with the 2x speed boost of Beamr 5, for the first time live and ultra-low latency HEVC software video encoding is available without expensive hardware.
#2. There is no time to wait to integrate HEVC encoding into your video workflow.
The industry has realized the benefits of HEVC as a robust and ultra high-quality next generation codec for some time, but with limited playback support outside the TV, questions about timing held back some deployments. Now, with iOS 11 and High Sierra public betas rolling out to developers in June and to users this fall, video distributors who have not yet commissioned an HEVC encoding workflow can feel confident to evaluate and deploy Beamr 5, the best HEVC software encoding implementation on the market.
#3. Apple is supporting playback of video that emulates real life and provides critical user engagement with HDR.
With the announcement of 500 nit displays, 10-bit graphics support and 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake with Iris Pro Xeon processors in the new iMac line, Apple is showing us where they are going on the decode and display side. They’ve selected HEVC as the codec that will carry their video services such as iTunes into the future along with third party services who take advantage of the built-in HEVC support.
The benefits of HEVC include higher order entertainment experiences, such as HDR high dynamic range which only HEVC is capable of managing the quality and bitrate requirements. Though not every home has an HDR capable TV, with Apple pushing their device performance ever higher, consumers will grow to expect HDR even on their Mac (and perhaps iOS devices). Services who do not adopt HDR encoding capabilities will find their position in the market difficult to maintain.
At NAB 2017 Beamr announced and demonstrated with Intel Beamr 5 supporting real-time live HEVC 4K HDR encoding on a single Xeon E3 processor with Iris Pro GPU.
It’s go-time for HEVC!
Beamr would like to be the first to congratulate Apple on taking a leadership role in the video ecosystem with your support of HEVC in iOS11 and High Sierra. Apple devices are a top viewing platform for all consumer services which is why Monday, June 5th, 2017 will be marked as the date that HEVC became the winner in the next generation video codec war.
For more information on Beamr and our class leading HEVC software encoding solutions, check out beamr.com