Safari Users Unable to Play Newer 4K Video on YouTube in Native Resolution

Reddit users have recently discovered that YouTube refuses to stream newly uploaded 4K video in its native resolution if the website is accessed through Safari web browser.

The issue was first raised almost a month ago by Reddit user GezimS, who wondered why the option to view 4K videos in 2160p was no longer available.

YouTube 4K
Other users soon chimed in to confirm the anomaly, noting that it only seemed to occur in recently uploaded 4K video and that accessing the same content in Chrome or Firefox still offered up the preferred 2160p resolution as a viewing option.

After some digging, user themcfly recently discovered that the issue is being caused by a change to the way YouTube encodes video and serves it through its website.

Specifically, YouTube appears to be storing video on its servers using either the more efficient VP9 codec or the older H.264 codec. Safari only supports the latter, which explains why recently uploaded 4K videos are only able to be viewed in up to 1440p.

Funnily enough, the same videos can be streamed by Safari in native 4K as long as they're embedded in another website, suggesting that the VP9 codec support requirement only applies to videos viewed directly on YouTube's website.

Until Apple updates Safari to support the VP9 codec, Mac users who want to access newer 4K video on YouTube in native 2160p resolution are advised to use a different browser.

Tags: YouTube, Safari, 4K


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20 months ago

Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.


Did you copy paste this from the product website?
Rating: 6 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago
Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.
Rating: 5 Votes
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20 months ago

V9 is a horrible codec though, I hope Apple don't put it into Safari, and nor Firefox follow suit to prevent this adoption - they should be using the far better H.265, not only is it better quality but it's set to be the industry standard - the iPhone has already decoded it for two generations, many video cards enable efficient processing for it - V9 has none of this, there is no hardware decoding for what is (even if it had it) a worse codec.

New Kaby Lake processors have hardware decoding for VP9, calm down
Rating: 5 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago

Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.


Safari has been my preferred browser for the most part ever since it was born, but I won't kid myself — version 10.x has serious issues. It's frequently locking up on me, and you can't ignore the fact that Chrome and Firefox's faster release cycle gives them an advantage. Apple's pace of development feels like a slug next to them.
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago

Safari is still the world's best browser. Safari alone is one of the best reasons you can have for choosing to use macOS and iOS.

Nothing compares to Safari when it comes to buttery smooth browsing experiences, world class security, privacy built-in, and obsessive attention to detail that delivers all of us a completely delightful experience every time.


Seriously? I love the look of Safari, no doubt. And it is a good browser, but this adoration is unfounded. Safari stops working a lot. If you go to a website it will get stuck on its way there, and you have to shut the browser down and restart for it to operate normally again. And, if you had other tabs open that you navigated to throughout various searches, you lose them and have to find them again. This is extremely frustrating. Other browsers do not do this to me. So, I wouldn't call Safari a delightful experience every time, and that nothing compares to it.
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago

What am I missing? I just played 2 videos in 4K on my 2016 MBP using Safari. I searched "4K video" and played the 2 top search results at 2160p.o_O


Read the article. Not just the headline.
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago
*Article regarding macOS Safari*
*Posted on iOS Blog*

Anyway, it's getting hard to use Safari if Apple doesn't start supporting these newer formats. I understand the battery concerns, but it only needs to be enabled when a user wants to watch a video in 4K if done right. Although that might be a little bit more coding needed on YouTube's end instead of Apple's.

Still better then Chrome for battery efficiency.
Rating: 3 Votes
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20 months ago

New Kaby Lake processors have hardware decoding for VP9, calm down

Kaby Lake actually has better support for H.265, so I'm not sure what your point is.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/01/intel-pushes-out-the-rest-of-its-kaby-lake-processors-for-2017s-pcs/
"The integrated GPUs support hardware-accelerated decoding and encoding of 10-bit HEVC/H.265 video streams and decoding of 8-bit VP9 streams. "
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
20 months ago

*Article regarding macOS Safari*
*Posted on iOS Blog*

Anyway, it's getting hard to use Safari if Apple doesn't start supporting these newer formats.


This is an old story repeating itself. A storm in a teacup being generated by Google because their business model hinges on not paying for technology licenses.

Years ago Google tried to force the royalty free VP8 codec on the public. It lost out to H.264 because the latter offers superior quality and energy efficiency and because the latter was chosen by Apple.

Now Google is pushing the similarly inferior VP9 codec. It will lose out to the superior HEVC.

So the real question is when will Apple officially support HEVC/h.265. And the answer is whenever they decide the time is right to start offering 4K content on iTunes. This will hinge on the wider availability of 4K content and on the availability of sufficient internet bandwidth for content owners and consumers to be able to stream this content at a reasonable cost.

It's also worth remembering that Google aggressively tried to use Flash support as a point of attack in the Android vs. iOS marketing war a few years ago. We all know how that tactic worked out for them.
Rating: 2 Votes
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20 months ago

Safari - it just works

YouTube changed their video encoding, how is it Apple's problem?

I'm sure Apple will push out an update to fix it, but this is on YouTube's end.
Rating: 2 Votes
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