Akamai Simplifies iOS Streaming With Its HD Network

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Akamai is set to announce new capabilities that will make it easier for media companies using its HD Network to deliver video to the iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices. With its new “in the network” packaging of iOS content, content providers will be able to serve up video to multiple Apple devices without changing their existing workflow.

Akamai’s HD Network can auto-detect the Apple device trying to connect to a video, and will serve the correct version of the file based on the device profile and available bandwidth. It does this by automatically packaging the files into the correct format, so the content provider doesn’t have to encode multiple versions of the same file.

The system works by taking pre-existing video assets in the network — which could include single bit rate or multiple bit rate versions of a file — and placing them in the appropriate format to be viewed by different devices. The solution even makes those files available using Apple’s adaptive bit rate streaming, meaning if a video is accessed and network conditions change, it will adjust to send the highest quality version of the video available to the iOS device. As a result, video providers will be able to reach more than 120 million iOS devices without making any changes to their existing workflow.

For now, Akamai says the solution is only available for Apple devices such as the iPhone or iPad, which don’t support Adobe Flash. Instead, web videos delivered to iOS devices need to be encoded in the H.264 format and playable in an HTML5 player. By enabling this type of “encode once, serve everywhere” capability for iOS devices, Akamai can help its customers speed development of HTML5 video pages across devices, as well as iPhone and iPad app development.

Akamai isn’t the only provider to simplify the process of serving video across multiple devices; online video management provider Brightcove has rolled out support for iPhone, Android and other mobile devices with universal embed codes that auto-detect the device trying to access a video and serve up the correct file. Akamai rival Limelight Networks purchased mobile delivery specialist Kiptronic, which provides dynamic delivery of mobile content based on the device that is requesting a web page or video file.

While Akamai is launching its dynamic “in the network” packaging of video to iOS devices at first, it could expand those capabilities to reach other devices in the future. With the ability to auto-detect a device requesting content and package a file in the correct format, Akamai’s ability to serve files shouldn’t be limited to Apple devices only. Determining the correct video format and serving to Android or other mobile devices might be next on Akamai’s list of features.

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