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Edge 17 supports open media codecs

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We've long blogged about media codecs (the formats that audio and video are stored in) on the web. Two of our first five ever blogs posts were about the subject, and we've blogged about it several times since then. It's always been a significant complication with web publishing, and it seems like a kind of ridiculous problem too - why can't everyone just agree on one format? Still, we have good news today! Microsoft deserve much kudos for (finally) adding support for open media codecs in Edge 17, which is available from this week with the Windows 10 April 2018 update.

Edge 17 media codec support

Impressively, Edge 17 has parity with Chrome's media codec support: it supports all of WebM Opus, Ogg Opus, WebM Vorbis, Ogg Vorbis, MPEG-4 AAC, MP3, FLAC and PCM WAV for audio. For video it supports WebM VP8 and VP9, Ogg Theora, H.264 and even H.265 which Chrome doesn't support.

This is great news for Construct users! All existing Construct 2 content with Ogg Vorbis audio will now detect that it's supported in Edge 17 and switch to using that instead. Ogg Vorbis audio is better quality and a smaller download than the MPEG-4 AAC alternatives. Construct 3 encodes WebM Opus, which is now natively supported so it will skip loading the WebAssembly Opus decoder, making downloads smaller and quicker to start up.

Browser media codec support in 2018

My first ever blog on HTML5 audio formats still gets loads of hits, but is now well out of date. (It has a table with IE9 in it.) So here's a new table with the state of media codec support on the web, 2018 edition.

Audio format support

Chrome Firefox Edge 17 Safari 11
WebM Opus
Ogg Opus
WebM Vorbis
Ogg Vorbis
MPEG-4 AAC
MP3
FLAC
WAV

Spot the odd one out! Unfortunately WAV and FLAC files tend to be too large to deliver over the web, MP3 is poor quality by today's standards (although its patents have now expired), and MPEG-4 AAC is still patent-encumbered making it difficult for tools like Construct to encode it. We are tantalisingly close to having open audio formats that work everywhere, but alas - we still have to ship dual-encoded audio, or a WebAssembly decoder, on account of Safari.

Video format support

Chrome Firefox Edge 17 Safari 11
WebM VP8
WebM VP9
Ogg Theora
H.264
H.265

It's a similar story with Safari here. The old Edge & Safari vs. Chrome & Firefox split is still visible here in H.265 support. While H.264 has broad support, as with MPEG-4 AAC it's patent encumbered making it harder to build tools that encode it.

There's also an entirely new format - AV1 (not to be confused with AVI - that's a number 1!) by the Alliance for Open Media. This looks well-placed to be the video codec of the future.

Future support

Apparently Safari already has an Opus decoder in it for WebRTC. I'm hopeful they can add at least WebM Opus support for Web Audio and the <audio> tag. This would mean we'd finally have a single open audio format that can play everywhere. Then if AV1 can succeed all other video formats, we might at long last have broadly supported open media codecs for the web. Hurrah!

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