Agora is excited to be the first real-time video platform-as a-service (PaaS) provider to release full support for VP9 in browsers including Safari. Full VP9 support comes with the release of Web SDK 14.9.2. VP9 provides twice the quality of the VP8 codec for the same bitrate. In my 12 years of WebRTC expertise this is a truly impressive milestone for the industry.
What is VP9 and why is it important?
VP9 is a video coding format developed by Google. VP9 is the successor to VP8, which is currently the default for real-time video on the web. VP9 enables twice the compression of VP8 and is customized for video resolutions greater than 1080p (such as UHD).
VP9 is a significant advancement in the world of video codecs for several reasons:
- Improved Compression: VP9 provides better compression than its predecessor (VP8) and is often compared favorably to HEVC/H.265 in terms of compression efficiency. Better compression means smaller file sizes without compromising video quality, which leads to faster streaming and reduced bandwidth usage.
- Adaptive Streaming: VP9 is well-suited for adaptive bitrate streaming, such as YouTube’s Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). This adaptability ensures that videos stream smoothly across various network conditions.
- Support for 4K and Beyond: VP9 is designed to handle high-resolution video, making it an excellent choice for 4K streaming and even resolutions beyond that.
- Broad Adoption: Major platforms, like YouTube, have adopted VP9 due to its efficiency, leading to a significant portion of internet traffic being encoded in VP9.
- Power Efficiency: For mobile devices and other battery-powered gadgets, VP9 is designed to decode efficiently, conserving power and extending battery life.
- Web Integration: Being a product from Google, VP9 has robust support in browsers, particularly in Chrome. This integration is essential for the web, especially for platforms that rely heavily on video content.
In summary, VP9 is a big deal because it represents a combination of cost-saving (due to being royalty-free), technological advancement (with improved compression and resolution support), and widespread industry adoption, all of which benefits both content creators and consumers.
Challenges with VP9 on Safari
While VP9 has been around since 2016, it has presented challenges with a lack of hardware support and Safari browser support. To this day, Safari does not provide network and compute adaptation other than to reduce the outgoing frame-rate and bit-rate. This means that a video stream coming from an iOS device will not look good on the receiving end when the bitrate drops or the device isn’t capable of encoding 720p video at 30fps.
Comparing VP9 to VP8
This comparison shows video coming from two identical iPhone 11s connected to the same Wi-Fi access point in a high packet loss office environment. On the left is VP8 and on the right is VP9. The bit-rate is limited to 1mbps on each device and the difference in quality is impressive.
Agora now offers full VP9 support for Safari
Agora has now solved the issues with VP9 in the Safari browser by providing dynamic resolution scaling on Safari 16.0 and later versions for desktop and mobile to adapt to the needs of a low-compute device or limited uplink. This allows the VP9 picture in Safari to remain stable with a high frame rate and no blockiness as seen in Google Chrome and other browsers.
VP9 is the latest innovation from Agora that ensures video quality is maintained in all environments. Real-time video quality is vital for ensuring a seamless user experience, fostering clear and effective communication, and reflecting professionalism. In contexts ranging from business meetings to telemedicine, high-quality video is essential for accuracy, engagement, and credibility.
As technology advances, users increasingly expect superior video quality as a standard. It’s essential to provide a seamless user experience that fosters clear and effective communication and reduces visual strain during prolonged usage. To find out more of Agora’s other innovations in real-time video quality, space: Revolutionizing Live Video Quality: Agora Unveils Next-Gen Enhancements.