Which codecs are supported natively by hardware?

You may have already read our discussion on HTML5 Video codecs, in which case you are probably now more familiar with the different codecs and other considerations in HTML5.

One other very interesting fact that you should be aware of is that there are many computer chips that actually perform hardware decoding of the H.264 codec. This is true on chips used by mobile devices like the iPhone and Android phones.

What is native H.264 support in the iPhone and Android?

Native H.264 support on the iPhone and/or Android means that the decoding of a video that is encoded by the H264 codec is done by the chip (which is part of the hardware since it is ‘physical’) as opposed to being done by the software. The fact that the chip is already part of the iPhone is why it’s called native H.264 support – here native is synonymous with “built-in”.

Having the native hardware (which is the chip) perform the decoding instead of the software can be far more efficient. For example, Steve Jobs once said that because the chip used by the iPhone has built in decoding for H.264, videos encoded using H.264 can play for 10 hours straight without draining the battery. But, videos that are decoded only by software can only play for 5 hours or less before the battery is drained – because the hardware is not helping out.

What is native WebM support for the iPhone and Android?

Currently, there are also some chips being introduced to the market that perform native hardware decoding for the WebM (with VP8 Codec) container.

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