What You Need to Know About HEVC Video in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

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?


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.


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.


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.

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


Top Rated Comments

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8 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?
Rating: 3 Votes
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8 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
Rating: 2 Votes
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8 months ago
Except youtube comes through in 1080 on all Apple devices and browsers, which is a real shame.
Rating: 2 Votes
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8 months ago

Except youtube comes through in 1080 on all Apple devices and browsers, which is a real shame.

Blame YouTube/content producers. Most upload in 1080p at best, so YouTube chose to restrict streaming to that.
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 months ago
So....if I read the article correctly, my iPhone 6+ with iOS 11 will not be able to capture/encode HEVC but will be able to play HEVC vids, albeit at a lesser efficiency than, say, an iPhone 8 or X. And if I install High Sierra on my late-2011 MBP (assuming it’s supported), I will be able to capture *and* play HEVC vids, but also at lesser efficiency?
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 months ago
I'm pretty sure you can play HEVC in the current OS by using software such as VLC. You don't need to upgrade OS's for playback.
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 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.

[USER=1022208]@timmyh[/USER] 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.
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 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.
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 months ago
Bring VP9.....hello YouTube
Rating: 1 Votes
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8 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?


If your Mac runs High Sierra, then it supports HEVC playback, as noted. Transcoding performance depends on a range of software / hardware factors.
Rating: 1 Votes
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