HEVC playback

What about hevc/x265 playback, mrmc (kodi) for atv4 plays the files without a problem if the bitstream is not higher than 5mbit.
Now it only plays 1 frame a second.

Can anyone else confirm if 1920x800 24fps 10-bit H.265 works in other apps on the Apple TV? It isn’t watchable in Infuse Pro, and I am assuming this is simply a matter of hardware limitation, but if it does indeed work in some other app I would be willing to try it.

I can confirm that. There is an app I’ve been using that decodes 1080p x265 videos without any problem. It’s called HD Player.

First a little background: I’m an avid Infuse Pro user. Until recently I had a 32" LED screen and I was always playing 720p HVEC videos which was enough for that screen real estate. But last week I bought a 43" LED screen so I needed to use 1080p from now on. I knew Infuse can’t play flawless those videos but tried again anyway. It’s not possible to play 1080p HVEC videos through NAS even if I’m using 5GHz 802.11ac local network. So I had a backup plan. There is this tvOS app called “HD Player”. The trick this app has is it has local storage support! You first upload your 1080p video to app’s local storage through browser. And then bam! It plays 1080p HVEC like a charm!

I can’t understand why we can’t have local storage support on tvOS version of Infuse Pro while we can on iOS version. HD Player has this feature since its first days. It supports HEVC, HEVC 10-bit, VC1, VP8, VP9 up to Full HD with an IAP. I’ve been using this app for more than 6 months and it may have been pulled from the app store, I’m not sure. But VLC also has the same local storage option and it also plays 1080p HVEC flawless with local storage.

So what’s FireCore’s take on this matter?

The difference with local storage between iOS and tvOS, is that tvOS can automatically delete any app’s local storage if it decides another app needs the space. I think VLC shows a warning about it.

I’ve been using 32GB version of Apple TV since November. And I never had free space less than 25GB. I don’t think it’d be a problem unless you install thousands of apps to your Apple TV. And I’ve never had any problem regarding missing/deleted files on local storage with VLC or HD Player. Infuse can just offer this as an option with a warning just like VLC does.

I finally got around to downloading it. Regretfully, the process of getting a file to play is too clunky for me. Connecting to a share, browsing it, and then transparently downloading to local storage before playing would work for me. Firing up a computer and using a web interface to manually move files, as is required by HD Player, does not.

I just tried VLC, it doesn’t choke as often or as spectacularly as Infuse, and when it does it is for shorter periods of time, but it is still not perfect. Also, no Dolby Digital, it seems.

I guess I’ll just have to keep my Mac mini around a bit longer.

On the latest pro 4.2 everything works much better. But on the iPad air 2 everything works smooth without a problem. The apple tv and iPad air 2 are on the same hardware A8,2gb or not ?

We’re not on the same side. For me it’s pointless to use an Apple TV if I’m gonna have to keep a computer working while I watch stuff. I have a 802.11ac router with NAS support and a 64GB Sandisk flash drive full of contents to play. So I only keep my Apple TV working during my watch sessions. On this scenario I load content to watch to that flash drive through local network and then watch them on Insufe Pro. If I had a Mac mini I’d connect it to my LED screen with an HDMI cable and would never buy an Apple TV.

If you think about this setup you’d understand why I’m complaining. I wanna play those HVECs with Infuse because it has Trakt.tv support and syncs everything. Although not having Trakt.tv support, VLC and HD Player play 1080p HVEC videos flawless thanks to local storage support. Infuse can’t play them because of bandwidth problems probably. Because on my iPad mini 4 it also can’t play same 1080p HVEC videos from the same network attached flash drive. As an extra iPad brings me audio/video sync problem.

Apple didn’t include 4k support for the APPLETV gen4. Therefore, no h.265 hardware decoding baked in because 4k and HEVC go hand in hand. I’d wait for the appletv gen5 which is likely to get 4k support and therefore h.265 hardware decoding. Sure some people are using h.265 with 1080p to reduce file sizes, but that means there’s still no hardware decoder. As of now, i believe all h.265 decoding is purely software based which max’s out the CPU’s capabilities.

Given the traction that 4k tv’s have been making in the past year(down to sub $700 now), and the fact that netflix, youtube, and other apps are offering it. Also the fact that amazon’s firetv, roku and other competition has it. Apple will probably be forced to break with the tradition of 3 year updates on the appleTV. Hopefully we’ll get a 4k appletv gen5 by next year.

You couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, 4K and h.265/HEVC do not go hand in hand by definition. It’s a logical step, since 4K is almost 4 times the size of Full HD in terms of resolution and hence the file size will also be almost 4 times the size of a 1080p video without any additional optimisations. But you shouldn’t forget that while h.265/HEVC is the default go-to codec for release groups on the internet, the industry is far broader. LG, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Philips, Sharp, ARM, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Realtek Semiconductor and Mozilla are supporting VP9 as the next codec. Also: Google has built-in support for VP9 in YouTube and Chrome. Not saying these companies don’t support h.265/HEVD though, some do but I’m just stating the fact that there’s a two-way battle going on in the professional market.

I don’t say VP9 will be the winner or only codec out there, my personal opinion is that both codecs (VP9 and HEVC) will coexist just like h.264, VC-1 and even MPEG-2 did for a while on Blu-ray. The pro of the VP9 codec instead of h.265/HEVC is that it is completely open source and royalty free. So the aforementioned release groups would do well to support this codec to let it gain traction in other markets as well.

The Apple A8 SoC has hardware decoding/encoding for h.265/HEVC, it’s even used for FaceTime on the iPhone 6 (Plus) and the later s-versions (and of course their iPad counterparts). However… due to licensing issues, Apple is not allowed to use this for anything other than FaceTime and has since the early stages of the iPhone 6 even removed their FaceTime HEVC statement from their website.

So hardware decoding is present, although the full potential isn’t used due to the fact app developers cannot directly speak to its library (licensing, etc). That said, I own a range of Apple products and the results with a heavy h.265 stream (5+ Mbit/s, variable) from my NAS (Gigabit to the 802.11ac router, then via 5GHz 802.11ac to the devices) are as following:

  • iPad air (A7) using VLC = works, but stutters the whole time with a lot of artefacts, busy scenes are practically not viewable
  • Apple TV 4 (A8) using VLC = works, doesn’t stutter, but in very busy scenes or some changes from scene A to B it shows green/white artefacts for a second or 2
  • Apple TV 4 (A8) using Infuse = works, doesn’t stutter, less artefacts than VLC, but still not perfect
  • iPhone 6s Plus (A9) using VLC = works almost flawlessly, during a 1 hour episode with lots of fast-action scenes I saw only 2 or 3 split-second moments with artefacts
    So yeah, this is due to the CPU capabilities and not being able to directly speak to the h.265 libraries for hardware decoding.

Finally: Apple will not be forced into anything. Being stubborn is almost their primary goal during product development and I’m glad they are, this way they’re not the n-th Google copycat. It doesn’t always bring the best products out there, but they stand for something they believe in.

You’re wrong, they go hand in hand in real world implementation. How many 4k h.264 files have you seen? Not many, if at all. That’s why i used the term “hand in hand” because they aren’t exclusive to each other, but it’s like they’re holding each others hands while manufacturers make the step up to higher resolution. That’s why manufacturers of media boxes with h.265/VP9 support advertise 4k in big bold letters. The amazon fire tv and roku for example. But their non-h.265 decoding boxes don’t have 4k advertised, which is why the apple TV4 doesn’t advertise itself as 4k.

Facetime does use H.265, but at a lower resolution(720p) and bitrate. Obviously in an effort reduce cellular data usage. But it’s pure speculation as to whether or not the A8 has hardware h.265/vp9 decoding and is simply a licensing issue. I’m leaning towards no, simply because it doesn’t make sense for apple to hold back youtube, itunes or netflix from showing 4k content. Especially since Amazon FireTV and Roku can both do it, and if it’s because itunes or the apple tv software developers aren’t ready with code yet, then why not announce that it would be available in the future? That’ll help keep marketshare because many people are willing to live with 1080p in the interim. So i speculate that it doesn’t have h.265 support and simply uses software decoding for facetime, which shouldn’t be an issue given the low resolution and bitrate of facetime. This is probably why facetime causes so much heat in comparison to my android equipment using google hangouts which causes no heat. Google is supposed to implement VP9 for hangouts, but i’m not sure when that’s rolling out, if it hasn’t already.