Apple’s Snow Leopard Will Bring Major Video Boosts

The early launch date of Apple’s (s AAPL) new Mac OS X Snow Leopard later this week (a $29 upgrade) means we Mac users will have access to improvements in video and capture playback very soon.

The new QuickTime X includes support for Apple’s HTTP live streaming protocol, which we’ve covered extensively since it was announced and released first for iPhones in June. The technology has already enabled some early live streams for baseball games and an Apple-produced Underworld concert.

Using HTTP instead of traditional linear streaming technologies can allow content providers to provide more reliable and consistent video experiences. Video can be streamed from normal web servers and dynamically adjusts based on network conditions. That’s especially important on a mobile phone, but as we’re all well aware, connectivity is never perfect — so this desktop update will provide a more consistent experience across many devices. Though it just came out this summer, some providers already using Apple’s HTTP streaming on iPhones include Major League Baseball (though MLB uses Flash for its premium desktop solution) and the Home Shopping Network. (Other video platform providers such as Microsoft (s MSFT) are also putting HTTP streaming to use. For an in-depth piece on the concept of adaptive bitrate streaming, subscribe to GigaOM Pro.)

Other video improvements in QuickTime X include a new player that allows users to capture and edit directly and then share on YouTube (s GOOG), MobileMe and iTunes and export to play them on iPhones and Apple TVs. And Apple promises smoother and quicker video playback of modern formats, as well as a 2.4-times faster launch, and better color reproduction.

Another bonus video feature: Back on the desktop in Snow Leopard proper, users will be able to play and zoom in and out of videos directly from thumbnails, similar to the experience in Microsoft’s Bing video search.