With the arrival of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple is supporting a new video format called HEVC, which replaces the previous standard most commonly used on Mac and iOS devices, namely H.264 / AVC. So why has Apple adopted the HEVC format, and what difference will it make to the end user?

Screen Shot 2

What is HEVC?

High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), also known as H.265, is a next-generation video compression standard developed by a group of encoding experts called the Joint Collaborative Team on Video Coding. The HEVC video format has been in existence since around 2013, and HEIF is the still-image version of the standard that both iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra also support. (You can learn more about HEIF here.)

Benefits of HEVC

Apple's decision to adopt HEVC basically means two things - higher quality video and better compression rates. The HEVC standard enables a video to be compressed into a file that is about half the size (or half the bit rate) of H.264 / AVC. To put that another way, a HEVC video file offers significantly better visual quality than an AVC file of equivalent size or bit rate. While results vary depending on the type of content and the encoder settings, videos encoded in HEVC typically exhibit fewer compression artifacts and offer smoother playback than videos encoded using AVC.

Screen Shot 1
According to Apple, HEVC can compress 4K video files to up to 40 percent smaller file sizes than AVC without losing quality, which means users who upgrade their devices to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra will be able to take the same high-quality videos without using up as much storage space. At the same time, transferring high-resolution video files between devices and over networks will require significantly less bandwidth, a key advance considering new 4K iTunes content launched for the new Apple TV 4K.

Compatibility and Support

To capture and encode video in the HEVC format, iOS devices need to have at least an A10 Fusion processor, so owners of iPhone 7 or later and 2017 iPad Pro are fully able to take advantage of the standard. To check if your device's camera is capturing video in HEVC, go to Settings -> Camera -> Formats, and ensure the "High Efficiency" option is selected.

2017 MacBook Pro front
All iOS devices running iOS 11 and all Macs on High Sierra will support HEVC playback, with encoding/decoding hardware acceleration on newer iOS devices and the latest 2017 Macs offering faster performance combined with less battery drain. Readers interested in further transcoding details are advised to watch Apple's dedicated HEVC codec video presentation.

Tag: HEVC
Related Forums: iOS 11, macOS High Sierra

Top Rated Comments

jmh600cbr Avatar
61 months ago
Except youtube comes through in 1080 on all Apple devices and browsers, which is a real shame.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crzyrio Avatar
61 months ago
Comon, you guys could have put more work in to this.

No info on how High Sierra handles HEVC, hardware acceleration? Which Mac's support it etc?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
A7ibaba Avatar
61 months ago
Comon, you guys could have put more work in to this.

No info on how High Sierra handles HEVC, hardware acceleration? Which Mac's support it etc?
Hardware HEVC 265 is only supported on mac with Kaby lake procesors
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bommai Avatar
61 months ago
Blame YouTube/content producers. Most upload in 1080p at best, so YouTube chose to restrict streaming to that.
Wrong. You tube uses vp9 which my Sony x800 plays fine in 4k. Apple is not supporting vp9 so only 1080p.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
61 months ago
The HEVC standard enables a video to be compressed into a file that is about half the size (or half the bit rate) of H.265 / AVC.
@timmyh Small typo. It should read: size (or half the bit rate) of H.264 / AVC. HEVC is H.265.:)
[doublepost=1506362908][/doublepost]
Blame YouTube/content producers. Most upload in 1080p at best, so YouTube chose to restrict streaming to that.
That's wrong and irrelevant. 4K content is broadcast using VP9.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jamesrick80 Avatar
61 months ago
Bring VP9.....hello YouTube
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
EA Apple Maybe Feature

Apple Reportedly Talked With Electronic Arts About Potential Acquisition

Monday May 23, 2022 10:58 am PDT by
Apple is one of several companies that have held talks with Electronic Arts (EA) about a potential purchase, according to a new report from Puck. EA has spoken to several "potential suitors," including Apple, Amazon, and Disney as it looks for a merger arrangement. Apple and the other companies declined to comment, and the status of the talks is not known at this time, but Apple does have an ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...