What video formats will the iPad support?

Apple launched the iPad in 2010 and even though some experts criticised some aspects of the interface and others predicted that it would be just a short-lived craze, the tablet proved to be a success and it still is one of the best selling devices in the world. It is estimated that over 170 millions iPads have been sold to date and new versions such as the iPad Air, have appeared in the market since the original release. While the iPad continues impressing with its advanced technology and storage capacity, the fact that it does not support Flash, is one of the points that has caused frustration for many users since its release. Many questioned Apple’s decision not to support Flash, which is a hugely popular format used in the majority of PCs.

However, there are multiple reasons to explain the lack of Flash support and Apple’s co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs outlined them in an open document he wrote back in 2010. The main argument exposed by Jobs to justify the decision to leave Flash out of iOS devices include that Flash works well for PCs, but is not optimal for mobile touch-screen devices. The amount of memory required to use Flash in a mobile device could affect the performance of the iOS device. Instead of this popular format, Apple opted for H.264, MPEG-4 and M-JPEG. Here is a brief overview of the video formats supported by iPad.

H.264 is an advanced video coding that in is part developed by Apple. With H.264, iPad users can watch movies with 720p high definition resolution at up to 30 frames per second. Even though YouTube and most internet video services use Flash, iPad can still play YouTube videos thanks to an application created by Apple using H.264. The file formats are mp4, m4v and .mov.

Apple has a long history of working with MPEG-4 format and it was used on the company’s QuickTime video program. MPEG-4 enables users to upload, download and share most videos from the pre-HD era. Videos can be viewed at up to 30 frames per second with a resolution of 640x480m pixels. It also uses mp4, m4v and .mov.


For high definition videos, Apple uses M-JPEG (Motion-JPEG), which plays 35Mbps per second at a resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. It works at 30 frames per second with HDTV sharpness, which enable iPad users to watch DVD movies. Keep in min that 3-D is not supported. The file format s .avi.

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