The current standard for high-quality video is H.264; H.264 is used by pretty much all video streaming websites and most offline videos that are of high-quality use it, too. However, soon H.264 will be a thing of the past because the International Telecommunication Union has just approved H.265, the new high-quality video standard that supersedes H.264.
H.265 offers something for everyone, regardless of if you have a fast or slow internet connection. If you have a faster, broadband connection, H.265 will allow for streaming of 4K videos. 4K videos are roughly twice the quality of current 1080p videos. If you have a slower connection, H.265 will make it easier to stream 1080p videos; with H.265, you will be able to stream 1080p videos with about half the bandwidth required with H.264.
Now it should be noted just because ITU has approved the standard does not mean it will instantly be integrated into websites and products. There will definitely be some sort of lag time between now and when we start to see H.265 in the real world. 4K TVs, although expensive, are already available. However, TechCrunch estimates software decoders (i.e. third-party programs that can play H.265 videos) will appear by the end of the year but it could take anywhere between 12 to 18 months before H.265 starts to be integrated on the hardware side. And obviously websites and videos won’t start streaming in H.265 until there is an audience that can play it.
So while this is good news, we will have a long way to wait.