It took eleven years (!) But now the Safari browser finally gets support for the webm video format from Google. A format that competing browsers such as Firefox and Chrome have supported for many years.
Webm is a so-called unlicensed video format that Google launched in May 2010 during the Google I / O developer conference. The format uses open source and can therefore be used by anyone, completely free of charge.
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The support for webm comes with the update to macOS 11.3 “Big Sur”. There is no clear reason why the support took as long as it did, but it probably has to do with the fact that Apple prefers the MP4 format before webm.
It is mainly Google’s own services that use the web today. Video codecs such as VP8 / VP9 and Vorbis use webm, while heavier codecs such as H.264 / H.265 use the MP4 format instead.
More commonly used is perhaps webp which is an image format and not video format as webm is. Webp was introduced to the Safari browser already last year and is available in all modern browsers on the market today.
FAQ – worth thinking about webm and webp
If you use macOS 11.3 or later, just open the file in Safari and the movie can be played. If you have an older version of macOS, you must use an add-on for Safari, such as excellent VLC, to watch the movie.
Webm is a video format while webp is an image format.
The biggest difference is which video codecs are supported. Webm supports VP8 / VP9, among others, while mp4 supports H.264 / H.265. Both formats compress the videos where the webm is generally a bit sharper, at least VP8 versus H.264.