Apple Adds WebM Web Audio Support to Safari in Latest iOS 15 Beta

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Apple’s latest iOS 15 beta includes options to enable the WebM audio codec in Safari, hinting at full integration when the operating system launches this fall.

Currently available as an option in the Experimental Features of WebKit section of Safari Advanced Settings, WebM Web Audio and the associated WebM MSE parser are two parts of the larger WebM audiovisual media file format developed by Google.

An open source initiative, WebM presents a royalty-free alternative to popular web video streaming technology and serves as a container for the VP8 and VP9 video codecs. As for Safari, WebM Web Audio supports Vorbis and Opus audio codecs.

Code discovered by 9to5Mac reveals that the WebM audio codec is expected to be enabled by default in the future, suggesting that Apple will officially adopt the standard when iOS 15 is released.

Apple added support for the WebM video codec on Mac when a second beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3 was released in February. The video portion of WebM has yet to be implemented on iOS, but that may soon change with the adoption of WebM audio assets.

WebM dates back to 2010, but Apple has been hesitant to integrate the format into its flagship operating systems. The late co-founder Steve Jobs once called the format a “mess” that “wasn’t ready for prime time.”

As Appleinsider Noted when WebM hit macOS, Apple might want to support high-resolution playback from some streaming services like YouTube, which rely on VP9 to stream 4K content. The validation of WebM Web Audio is a step in this direction.

Apple is expected to launch iOS 15 this fall with a list of new iPhone and Apple Watch models.


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