Google brings 720p video streaming to Hangouts, drops support for H.264

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Google is about to make some changes to its Hangout service, which should make for a more pleasing experience. According to the company on its Google+ page, Hangouts will have the option to make video calls in full 720p HD with up to 10 people at the same time. Some users of Hangouts might have already seen changes, but for the rest of us, we’ll have to play the waiting game.

In addition to adding support for 720p HD, Google is making another major step by completely removing support for the H.264 codec in favor of its own VP8 codec. Google launched VP8 a few years ago and have been slowly implementing the codec into its services, most notably, YouTube.

VP8 was designed to be fast and efficient when streaming video content, and, the codec is open source so now anyone can use it without the need to pay royalties. We understand that Google Hangouts 720p video streaming is only possible with VP8, mainly due to its efficiency and speed. This means your computer machine should perform relatively well during a Hangout video call with 720p HD turned on and running smoothly.

The best thing about VP8 is the fact that it does not require a plug-in to work. Finally, the death of the plug-in is upon us, and we’re ready to embrace this change. Now, we’d like to see Google focus its efforts on ridding YouTube of H.264, it’s has been too long a wait.

[via Google+]

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6 comments

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  5. Eric989

    I actually started to say that you are crazy and that VP8 sucks compared to H.264 but I decided to check up on it first and it seems VP8 has made some great strides recently. Generally VP8 videos are much larger than their MP4 counterparts on Youtube but it seems that that is not always the case with more recent videos and just today I ran across a VP8 video that was actually smaller than the equivalent mp4. I just converted a couple of videos with xmedia recode, and I must say that the VP8 was much clearer at the same bitrate and file size. That wasn’t the case the last time I did a comparison so something has changed.
    I don’t know of a way to encode into H.265 so I can’t say anything about that, besides VP9 is the equivalent to that and it is brand new.
    Google also has an image format called WebP that it hopes replaces jpeg but it doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction. In my limited tests of it, it does seem a little better but it’s not exactly mind blowing.

  6. eMcE

    Yeap.. Another google_crap, that make ppl crazy, last time.
    The best video format, H.265 is on the market, since two yeras now? And why not them? Is open source, free, small, effective etc. But no. Google has its own, another strange patent. eeehhh..