Other than the iPhone’s so-called antenna problem has there been more media noise than Apple vs. Adobe and the Flash player?
More videos on the web use the Flash video player browser plugin than any other method. One enterprising Mac developer found a way to dump Google’s YouTube Flash Video Player and replace it with a svelte and elegant Safari extension. Is it ready for prime time?
Mixing And Matching Video Formats
I’ve said it before and will say it again. Video file formats on web sites are a huge mess that’s not likely to get better any time soon, despite efforts by Joris Verveuurt and his new FlashtoHTML5 Safari extension.
How many video file formats and players can you count on your Mac?
There’s Apple’s QuickTime, Microsoft’s Window Media Video (via Flip4Mac), Adobe’s Flash and a dozen more all of which want your attention and love. Why can’t we all just get along?
One of the most popular video players is Google’s YouTube player which displays video in multiple formats; Flash and H.264 (one reason why YouTube videos can be viewed on iPhone and iPad—no Flash).
One of the most disturbing problems with YouTube’s Flash player, indeed almost any Flash video player, is the Mac’s CPU. It gets hogged by the player, slows down your Mac, clogs Safari (or other browsers), and is often credited with causing more Safari crashes than anything else.
FlashToHTML5 To The Rescue?
Now that Apple has supplied Safari with official extension capability, what are Mac developers doing? They’re building those utilities that fix problems caused by Apple and Adobe not being able to get along.
FlashToHTML5 is a Safari extension. Once installed on your Mac, FlashToHTML5 will replace the YouTube Flash Player with a more elegant, CPU sipping HTML5 video player. The result, when it works, is less hogging of the CPU, longer battery life, and your Mac will run cooler and faster.
What’s the downside? Not much, since FlashToHTML5 is free, but some of the Flash attributes, such as sub-titles and user captions will not be visible. Oh, guess what? No advertisements within the video, either.
Other minor problems include the fact that not all YouTube videos can be played in the extension’s HTML5 video player, but even when that happens FlashToHTML5 reverts back to YouTube’s Flash Player.
My experience so far has succumbed to mixed results.
When the Safari extension works, the videos player smoothly and with nary a hiccup or blip on the CPU meter. That’s better than YouTube’s Flash Player.
FlashToHTML5 doesn’t work on Mobile Safari, of course, so you’re stuck using it only on your Mac.
Also, it doesn’t address the other problem of running the Flash plugin in Safair with half a dozen Flash advertisements plastered all over some web pages. For now it’s only a replacement for YouTube’s ubiquitous Flash Player.
The other negative is that it’s yet another way to mangle the video player process for Mac users already drowning in video player choices, hacks, substitutes, and work arounds.
Seriously. When it comes to playing video files on our Macs, why can’t we all just get along?