The rise of video
Since then video has come a long way. We went from nitrate film, tape and VHS to digital video. From black and white tubes to full color 4k flatscreen televisions. And from static desktop environments to video more and more being something that you take with you by watching it on your mobile device. Today, around 27% of all video views come from smartphones. The two leaders of course being Android smartphones (about 15%) and the iPhone (around 11%).
On Android video playback works as expected. You can do everything you normally can with the HTML5 video element. On the iPhone however there are some quirks. For starters, it is not possible to influence the sound of the video, because all sound and volume is managed by the operating system. Also - and here lies a big issue - it is not possible to play video normally in the browser without going fullscreen and playing it in the native video player. We call this "inline video" playback. Android used to have this issue as well, but fortunately their developers came to their senses and allow it since version 4.0.
Inline video: why?
There are two reasons why we thought it was important for our clients to also have the inline video iPhone playback experience. It allows you to have a custom design for your video-player and to display something like a clickable button on top of the video. The latter is something our interactive video-player relies on heavily. With buttons, images and even webforms displayed in a layer above the video you can make your video interactive.
Another feature of our online video platform is to use our player to play video ads. We created the “InArticle” video ad-format. A player that expands itself within an article to play a video ad. A great way for publishers to greatly increase their inventory for video-ads. This feature also relies on the fact that a device can actually play inline video. (Opening a fullscreen video ad that plays with sound while reading an article would probably not be received very well by the public.)
So, to best serve our clients, we came up with an inline video solution. Using “moving images” – like Eadweard Muybridge once did with his race horse – synchronizing itself to an HTML5 audio element, we create “the illusion” of video for all devices that do not allow it to play inline natively.
Inline video effectively removes the need for our clients to think of another way to reach their public, when they just took the effort by reaching out to their clients with interactive video. A second benefit is that we can actually "mute" the video on the iPhone by just pausing the audio element and keep the "moving images" playing.
Maybe some day the developers at Apple will rethink their decision, but until that time we will keep doing our best to keep our player working (in the same way) across all browsers and platforms with inline video.