Developing YouTube for the Mobile Web: Flash, Testing and Support
From May 11 - 12 Mobify had the privilege of speaking at the Mobilism 2012 Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
We joined mobile leaders like Google, Facebook, Opera and Nokia for two days of excellent mobile thought, strategies and lessons.
One of our favorite panels came from Greg Schechter and Eugene Goldin of YouTube.
Once the audience got beyond the lessons of cat videos, we learned how YouTube were able to scale their global video powerhouse for the mobile web in response to the incredible growth in mobile video consumption.
YouTube now deals with hundreds of different devices, with different operating systems, screen sizes, codec support and more. Delivering video to the globe is a complicated business.
Some of the highlights of the video include:
- Traditionally, YouTube has been serving videos to desktop visitors using Flash
- Mobile views tripled from 2010 to 2011
- YouTube needed to address growing mobile visitors on devices that couldn't handle flash
- For fallbacks they used the rtsp:// protocal if the device did not support HTML5
- They also used a custom protocol to launch the YouTube native app, if supported (Android, iOS), through a link syntax like – youtube://video_id
- They have to worry about different phones that have different browsers and capabilities
- They also have to worry about which YouTube video player format is served to which browser/phone combo
- The H.264 CODEC is the most commonly supported format and uses less power (via software and hardware) than other formats like webm and Flash
- They always need to consider size restrictions and make user interface elements big enough to hit with fingers
- They are also aware of the difference between navigating a site with a mouse vs a finger – eg. don't trigger content with hover actions on mobile
We recommend watching the whole thing. It includes both cat videos and mobile development lessons from one of the largest websites on the planet.