Premium HLS Streaming Everywhere
JW Player 6.11 is now available across all of our platforms. This release dramatically improves HLS functionality and supports new features from Apple’s latest specification. With 6.11, any site that uses JW Player gains access to premium video player functionality typically only available from services like Netflix, Hulu+, and Amazon Prime Video.
Faster streaming everywhere
In addition to feature upgrades we did some serious under-the-hood maintenance that improves HLS video streaming startup speed, seek accuracy, and speed to playback after seeking. Since speed is the number one priority when trying to watch online video, each of these optimizations make the experience more natural, boosting engagement, and helping to prevent a viewer from getting bored and dropping off.
HLS Protocol 6
Our new HLS implementation provides the ability to have multiple audio tracks, embedded WebVTT captions, and will bubble up ID3 metadata embedded within streams. We are also supporting new tags that makes adaptive switching during live events more accurate.
Multiple Audio Tracks
JW Player is the only independent video player that supports multiple audio tracks. This functionality seamlessly stitches together separate audio tracks into the video stream. It allows viewers to easily toggle between the audio tracks that they want to hear. Our new audio tracks icon appears in the control bar whenever we detect multiple audio streams. This icon is available in all of our premium skins.
You can use multiple audio tracks to:
- Provide audio in multiple languages.
- Have a directors commentary track.
- Choose between different commentators for a live event (i.e., sports, politics)
Furthermore, the use of multiple audio tracks results in lower hosting costs by not requiring multiple video tracks to support your audio needs.
For better viewing experience, we will also detect the default language of a viewer’s machine and automatically choose a matching audio stream of that language. International viewers will get the language they want right away, without any extra clicks.
In Protocol 5, Apple introduced the ability to specify WebVTT subtitle tracks directly within an HLS manifest playlist. This allows you to be able to use the same subtitle tracks on desktop that you are providing your viewers on iOS. The JW Player will parse the files out of the manifest and display them in the closed captions menu. Providing 608 captions and WebVTT? Don’t worry — we will use the WebVTT over the 608 embedded captions since they are likely more accurate.
ID3 Timed Metadata
Earlier this year, we added support for parsing out ID3, timed metadata tags, in audio-only streams. This was used to give viewers more insight into the exact song title and artist that was playing in live radio streams. In 6.11, we have extended this support to streams with video. ID3 tags are keyed to a specific moment in time within a video. When the JW Player plays that video frame, it will let the client-side know the metadata. This opens up the possibility to implement some really powerful applications. Here are a few that are top of mind:
- Keeping presentation slides in sync with a video timeline.
- Updating a news ticker in a live stream.
- Letting the JW Player know that a live video stream is going into a commercial break.
We are really looking forward to seeing how you are going to use this!
We made it even easier to play video on the big screen when we launched Google Chromecast support in JW Player 6.9. Previously our Cast integration required you to setup the JW Player with HTML5 primary. Now you can use our Flash player and cast MP4s to our HTML5 receiver application. This allows you to use your Flash-based VPAID ads on the desktop while still being able to Cast that video to your nearby Chromecast.
Next on our list is wiring up more API events and getting HLS working in our receiver app. Stay tuned for that and more in our next release.
Summary and What’s Next?
With the release of JW Player 6.11, JW Player provides industry leading HLS functionality with high performance, beyond what is supported on Roku, Android, and any other desktop HLS video player.
Now that we support multiple audio streams we are thinking about adding support for multiple video streams, for uses like alternate camera angles. If this is something that you would use, let us know how!
Check our labs pages to keep up to date with what we are thinking about for our future releases. Remember to vote on what features/functionality you think is most valuable!